Headlines stripped from pages tattered and torn,
Not a damn thing have we learned.
Echoing a time past that man swore would never come again has reared its ugly head taking a stronghold in a country on fragile ground.
His rancid words like golden bile fill my throat; burning the tender flesh from within. If my eyes are closed I might even feel that fine gray ash drift from the furnace and touch my eyelashes; sticking to my cheeks as I cry for what was and what I thought would never come again.
But some of America smiled and embraced all that this self-proclaimed wise man had to say. They breathed in every vile word spoken from his pursed lips. Did he not have wealth and splendor far greater than most of us could gain? Didn’t his silver pen give him the right to make all he spoke true? And some of America bowed to his wealth and his words while others dropped to their knees in honest prayer.
A country, born on the ideal that all men are created equal, is on the verge of making all that our forefathers paved, seem lame. Who would have ever thought that the poem of greater than 200 years inscribed on our icon of freedom “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door,” is slowly being morphed into “two legs good, four legs better”
But some of America smiled as those “yearning to breathe free” were suffocated by a man whose mantra belied his words, “Make America Great Again.” Once again, the white Anglo-Saxon people will rise as it is meant to be and those with alternate skin colors, religions, and beliefs are herded into encampments which we are told will make us feel safe but really is intended to keep their spirits from soaring. My soul screams out, “save from the native Americans, aren’t we all immigrants born to mothers and fathers who left a homeland to make our lives better?”
I am not looking for a revolution. I am seeking a resolution. My mind can only imagine a country moving towards an evolution of all that is diverse, living harmoniously in what used to be a great country. But a trump card has been played and many have laid down before it, eating all that has been spewed before them. Perhaps this belief that the King of Spades has laid at their feet is merely a reflection of what many people have held in their hearts. I shudder at the thought.
I woke up this morning and saw the watermelon on my kitchen counter. Trevous gave it to me about 1 ½ weeks ago and I just couldn’t cut it; so it sat there, staring at me. Its various colored light green covering just looking at me from its perch on my kitchen counter. I wanted to cut it and taste the sweet red flesh from inside but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Just like my father working in his garden, I wanted the watermelon to last forever but I knew on some conscious or unconscious level that keeping them forever was an unrealistic goal.
My father gave Trevous the plant that bore the watermelon. When Trevous gave the watermelon to me my eyes filled with tears but I brushed them quickly away. There I was, hiding my pain once again so that nobody would feel sorry for me, but they did feel sorry for me whether I cried or not. My face has held the pain from my father’s death the moment he stopped breathing.
Trevous told me that the watermelon had been the only one that grew from the plant that my father had given him. Now I don’t know if watermelon plants bare more than one fruit but it didn’t seem to matter; the watermelon was a link to my father and I didn’t even say “No, you go ahead and keep it, my father gave you the plant,” I took it greedily.
And so it sat on my counter, the watermelon; a fruit that nobody in our household held a passion for as my father and I did. Much like a hunter waits for the first day of deer season to snag his first buck, my father and I hunted the produce stand for our first taste of a locally produced watermelon. Of course, out of necessity, we’d critique it as to its color and sweetness. We’d examine the edges, the rhine to see if it had caught a frost or become frozen during its growing or shipping stage. Our expertise in watermelon scoring was unique at best.
This morning, my father’s voice rang loudly in my ear, “Are you going to cut the damn thing or are we going to look at it until it rots?” Yep, I’d heard those words spoken many times when I didn’t cut the watermelon in a timely fashion. I’d smile back at my dad and say, “okay, okay, I’ll cut it.”
Today, I cut it. The watermelon spits its pink juice onto my shirt as I plunged the sharp steel blade into it and I silently cursed. I sliced the watermelon in two and tears immediately swelled up into my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. I missed my father so much in that moment as I looked at the red sweetness that had been hidden by its thick green rhine. I removed the flesh from its covering and tasted it. It was sweet but warm; nothing a refrigerator couldn’t fix. When my father would reach into the container for his first piece of watermelon he would jokingly yell at me for ruining a perfectly good watermelon by removing its rhine. “Watermelon is meant to be eaten with the rhine left on not removed like you do,” he would remind me. “Oh well, maybe next time I’ll keep it on,” I would tease him but he knew I wouldn’t.
My tears are wiped from my eyes now and the watermelon is safely tucked away in the refrigerator until it becomes cold. As I eat it, I suspect I’ll remember my father lovingly with each and every piece. Thank you Trevous for giving me such a tangible memory.
Hopefully, there comes a time in our lives when being liked and respected by others becomes far less important than being liked and respected by ourselves; doing the next right thing becomes more important than nodding affirmatively in an attempt to fit in with the status quo.
I used to proudly light my sparkler
On the 4th of July
And wave it back and forth to celebrate
The freedoms all of us shared
But I was young and impressionable
Then I met Rosa Parks
Who was riding on a bus
And all she really wanted
Was to rest her tired feet
I used to wake in the dawn’s early light
So proud to be a part
Of this great country we call Americia
That spread from sea to shining sea
But I was young and impressionable
Then I met Michael Shepard
Who was sitting on a fence
And all he really wanted
Was to live his own life
I used to believe what our leaders said
When they proclaimed these wonderful words
God has made all men
With equality and love
Please, please let us rejoice
Rejoice for we are truly blessed
Because it is in God we trust
He will take care of this mess
But I was young and impressionable
Then I met a Muslim woman
Who wore a hijab upon her head
And all she really wanted
Was in her own way, to practice her faith
I used to believe that the Promised Land
Was in my own back yard
And all were welcome to enjoy
The milk and honey that flowed from within
But I was young and impressionable
Then I met the Reverend King
Who had insight and grace
And all he really wanted to do
Was to mend a fractured country peacefully
Now you tell me things are different
And I tell you things are the same
You say we are more compassionate
But our actions remain unchanged
You wave your colors and shout out loud
“Don’t you dare stomp on my flag.”
But in the same breath it’s still okay
To kick a nigger or a fag
My hair has turned from black to gray
And I am less inclined
To follow blindly behind your parade
As you wave your precious flag
So please don’t wave your flag in my face
And tell me I am free
I’m only free if I live my life
The way YOU think it should be
I am not always loving and I am not always kind. There are times when I allow something or someone to enter into my sense of well being and rob me of my peace and serenity; it is at those times when the art of loving kindness eludes me.
Yesterday, I wrote a post entitled Listen to the Music of your Emotions which suggested that I can not get rid of a negative emotion until I know exactly the nature of that emotion and own it. Since yesterday’s post, I have been able to name an emotion which I have been experiencing. That emotion is hatred. The word “hatred” makes me shutter and to attach that word to an emotion that I am experiencing makes me shutter even more; and to own that emotion is almost more than I can handle. I think the reason I was having such difficulty naming my emotion as hatred is because it has been a terribly long time since I have actually “hated” and attaching hatred to me is something I had hoped that I would never have to experience again.
Why have I allowed this emotion, this hatred, to invade my peace? I have allowed it because I have a preconceived idea of how certain people should act and behave in a given situation. I guess, in my mind, certain people and organizations, by their mere oaths and doctrines should behave in a semi-predictable manner and when they fall miserably short they open, not only themselves, but a wide group of others by affiliation, to scrutiny. Two such examples are respected religious organizations and physicians.
A catholic (universal) organized religious institution who professes to preach love, kindness, compassion and Mercy has perverted those things which I hold dear. When a religious organization truly acts with love and kindness, it will not take a person from a fragile place, give them high hopes and dreams, and turn those hopes and dreams into a nightmare. A religious organization who acts with compassion and Mercy will not take that same shattered person and drive them further into the ground with life changing conditions. A religious organization will not say they practice Mercy while dangling the very livelihoods of people in the balance. Mercy is descriped in Webster’s dictionary as “
Physicians take an oath to “do no harm.” I think most physicians take this oath seriously and work tirelessly to do the best in medical situations, but is that where “do no harm” should end? Is it only “do no harm” in medicine? It appears, for some physician, do no harm translates to “don’t do anything that may result in a malpractice lawsuit.” What about doing no psychological harm to patients, employees or peers? Are these situations exempt? Is it wrong to expect a physician to treat other physicians, employees as well as patients with the respect and dignity that all human beings deserve?
I have to ask you can those two examples get much worse? Well, yes it can. It gets worse when a self-professed, God-fearing, Christian doctor who spreads dissention, hatred and discord via gossip and inuendo is employed and believed by a religious organization.
You might say that this post is nothing more than sour grapes. You might be right; that might be a thought I will have to explore more in depth. What I want this post to be about is getting in touch with my emotions and I can’t get in touch with them until I lay them on the table.
The hatred I feel is a direct result of my perception of how I think others should act. No one, not an organization or person, has the power to make me hate unless I allow it. It is my expectations that have disappointed me, not the behavior of others. I expected this religious organization and this doctor to act in specific ways and when they didn’t, I found fault in them. Who am I to dictate the behavior of others? When I expect things from others and they don’t deliver what I think should be delivered, I am doing nothing more than judging and that is God’s job not mine.
Hatred does nothing more than harm me. My hatred of a person or institution has absolutely no effect on them; most often they don’t even know I’m hating on them, but it can cause me sleepless night, stomach discomfort, headaces, as well as a multiple of other physical problems. I refuse to allow hatred to consume me so I have to find a way out. I have to take action!
When I find an emotion, such as hatred, is totally consuming me, I have to spend more time in prayer and meditation asking my Higher Power to have me be what He wants me to be. I have to pray for those who I hate even though I don’t feel they “deserve” it. I have to ask God to bestow upon them all the blessing and fortune I would want for myself or those I love even if this in direct opposition to what I actually feel. I have to pray for them until I actually believe my prayers. Then and only then can I be what God would have me be. It is easy to be loving and kind to those who are nice to me. Only when I reach out and tap into a Power greater than myself can I begin to master the true art of loving kindness.
Recently, I’ve heard more than once, “I’m feeling some kind of way.” In my experience when people say to me they are feeling “some kind of way,” they elude to the fact that what they are feeling is less than comfortable. While I have never used the saying, “I’m feeling some kind of way,” I certainly have experienced the inablilty to label an emotion causing me discomfort. How can I expect the discomfort to leave if I am unable to put a name to the emotion? I have to name it to be able to tame it.
How do I name an uncomfortable emotion of which I am uncertain? How do I put a label on an emotion when I don’t even know what I am feeling? For me, I have to listen to the music of my emotion. I have to allow myself to explore it, research it, investigate it and then own my discovery. I have to settle into the discomfort of what I am feeling and experience it. Yes, this is uncomfortable, but for me a necessary part of my healing process. I have to really listen to my mind’s eye and get in touch with what my mind is telling me. Only after self reflection can I label the emotion of which I was so uncertain. Then and only then can I give it a name…anger, fear, saddness, self pity, jealousy….or whatever the case may be.
Why do I need to name it? It is only when I know what “it” is can I do something about “it.” It is only when I know what emotion I am feeling can I take it apart and separate what is my perceived truth from what is the real truth. When I don’t examine what I am feeling, it is easy for me to lie to myself about what is “the real truth” in any situation. If I lie to myself, I can not hope to ever heal from an uncomfortable situation with any type of permanency. Once I see the emotion for what it is, then, and only then can I do something about it.
Okay, so I’ve felt “some kind of way,” I’ve settled into the discomfort, I’ve examined it, and now I’ve named it. Now what? What can I do with this emotion?
- I can keep the emotion. Keeping the emotion for an extended period of time is my choice. I can choose to waller around in my dis-ease.
- I can blame others for my emotion. It is easy to blame someone else for “making me feel” hurt, angry, sad, lonely or….. The unfortunate thing about blaming another is that it doesn’t really help me. I can’t change what others have done to me or what I perceive others have done to me. This choice only serves to drop me lower into the depths of an uncomfortable emotion because it presumes I don’t have a choice.
- I can ignore my emotions. I can pretend this uncomfortable feeling doesn’t exist or doesn’t “really bother me” but this only serves to push it down into my subconscious only to surface at a later date with vengence.
- I can own my emotions. I can look at what the effects of these emotions are having on me and those around me. I can look to a Power greater than myself to teach me what I am to learn from this experience and to heal me from any discomfort I may be experiencing.
I don’t always like the music I hear but I do know that I have to listen to the music of my emotions before I can begin to understand, heal, and feel good again.