A Handy Dandy Disapproval Decision Tree

Recently, two different people have chosen to pass judgment on one of my major life decisions. Their opinions were neither solicited nor appreciated. I’m struggling to get past my hurt and resentment toward these people.

That got me thinking about how often that happens in life. It’s always a grave mistake, and can sometimes damage relationships beyond repair. So, for your edification, dear reader, here’s a nifty little decision tree that I created that will help you decide when it’s best to shut the f*** up.

This isn’t rocket science, folks. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Disapproval Decision Tree

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Faith Ain’t Reality

I admire people who have faith. Religious faith in particular is a quality that seems to have eluded me most of my life. I would truly love to be able to let go and let God, as the saying goes.

It has to be comforting to think that there’s a higher power who has ultimate control. It must be liberating to not have to think you are the primary decision-maker in your own life, that the buck doesn’t stop here after all, that some cosmic being is on your side, and therefore a large amount of the responsibility belongs to someone or something else. It would be so nice to guess that your fate has already been mapped out for you. That there’s a plan. What a weight would be lifted from my shoulders! I’d also love to think that prayer could solve my problems.

I just can’t do it. I like facts. I want evidence. Proof. Otherwise, how is it different from believing in unicorns?

I wish there were unicorns. I’d love to see a unicorn. I’d love to live in a world where unicorns wandered the streets. But I live in the real world.

Here’s what gives me comfort: we’ve learned so much about the universe and how it works that it becomes increasingly easy to not rely on the great unknown to answer the decreasing number of unanswerable questions. We know what causes eclipses these days. Nothing is devouring the sun.

Now, the trick is to maintain a moral compass when you technically don’t answer to anyone other than yourself. Perhaps that’s the kind of faith I need to nurture: the concept that humans have the maturity to be capable of morality without oversight.

Wish me luck.


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Peace and Quiet

As I write this, a construction crew is tearing up the pavement on my bridge. It’s long overdue, and I’m really looking forward to not having potholes in my parking space anymore, but still, they are making an ungodly racket. I’ve actually had to resort to wearing earplugs, which is making it quite a challenge to hear boats when they request a bridge opening.

Peace is closely linked to quiet for a very good reason. I’m finding it really hard to concentrate due to this hullabaloo, and even harder to write. I’ve noticed I’m shaking my leg again, just like I did throughout my teen years. That’s evidence of an unsettled spirit.

If you don’t have quiet, you can’t think clearly. If you can’t think clearly, you make poor decisions. Poor decisions rarely lead to peaceful outcomes. At least that’s been my experience. If you ever want to see me contemplate violence, just let a neighborhood car alarm go off at 3 a.m., and let it continue to blare until the battery runs out. That’s pitchfork and torch time, as far as I’m concerned.

I always used to think that big cities were more crime-ridden than small towns because of the concentrated population. Now I’m beginning to wonder if it has more to do with the fact that in the country you can actually hear yourself think. Thinking people are less apt to break laws.

You’ll never see anyone meditating on a construction site. It’s not an ideal place to practice Tai Chi, either. Maybe if I calmly repeat, “Bye-bye, potholes,” as if it’s a mantra, while taking deep cleansing breaths, I’ll exit this experience with my sanity intact.


Human Signposts

As you walk your path in life, you’ll come across many intersections and forks in the road, and you’ll have to make decisions. Sometimes you won’t even know you’re at a crossroad until you look back and realize you’ve negotiated your way through it, or discover to your horror that you’ve gotten off track and have to go back and start again.

At times like this it’s really good to be a human being, because you have the power to observe and communicate and learn from others. Look around you and you’ll realize that there are human signposts at nearly every turn. Some people are admirable and you want to emulate them. Follow their path as much as you possibly can. Others are bad influences. They should have “Do Not Enter” tattooed across their foreheads. Many people are excellent sources of advice, and you can often learn from their past mistakes if you only take the time to listen to them.

When I come across a toxic individual, I try to comfort myself with the fact that I’m learning a valuable lesson about how I do not want to be. It’s as if they’ve done the screwing up for me, and yet I can still add it to my life experience. Toxic people can cause you a lot of heartache, but they can save you from even more of it as you walk away from them a much wiser individual.

Take the time to really observe the people who touch your life. Every single one is a sign post. Every single one has value.

IF I only had a brain

The Mysterious Death of a Decisive Woman

I met one of the most fascinating women I’ve ever known during my sophomore year in college. She shared my major and was extremely intelligent, so it was natural that I’d have been drawn to her. But the more I knew, the more intrigued I became.

I can say without hesitation that she was like no one else on the planet. One day I was to meet her at her dorm room, and when I went in she was sitting at her desk, doing her homework, stark naked. Her roommate was dithering awkwardly on the other side of the room. I didn’t know where to look, and yet we were carrying on a conversation as if nothing was amiss. This was nothing that my New England Protestant upbringing had prepared me for. When it was time to go, she got up, got dressed and off we went.

Another time we had gone out for pizza and we were in her car, waiting to turn left on a divided highway. When she pulled out, she didn’t see the old woman crossing in front of her car from the right. The next thing I knew, the woman was splayed across the hood of her car, cursing us vigorously through the windshield. The woman rolled off the car and walked away, still cursing. My friend drove off. I sat there with my hand over my mouth, and she said, “Well, dammit, she shouldn’t have walked in front of my car!” And that was that.

Another time she asked if I would be willing to do a threesome with her and her boyfriend. “Uh, no thank you.” This was the same week she told me she had made out with a particularly unattractive girl in our dorm just to see what it was like. It wasn’t the fact that she kissed a girl that bothered me. It was that she kissed one that never seemed to wash her hair, and all while having a steady boyfriend. I know, it was a strange reaction, but she brought out a lot of strange reactions in me.

She studied abroad in Mexico the year after I did, and several years later she mentioned quite casually that while she was there she was drugged, kidnapped, and woke up in a Mexico City hotel room, tied to a bed, where she was then repeatedly raped. I asked her how she got away. “Oh, he got bored and let me go.” I asked her if she reported it, and she said it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Er… what?

I can’t say that I agreed with, or even approved of, the decisions she made in her life, but by God I admired how decisive she was! Once she made a choice, she stuck to it. And those choices seemed to be influenced not at all by societal norms. I sort of envied her freedom, even if it brought her to places I wouldn’t have wanted to go.

After college we sort of drifted apart. She got married to Mr. threesome, had two children, and then, decisive woman that she was, she became a born again, charismatic Christian and was therefore almost impossible to talk to. Then one day it became a moot point because she couldn’t talk anymore.

She had a brain tumor. They were able to remove it, but somehow it affected her ability to speak. The doctors were certain this was permanent. She could type and write, and her cognitive skills seemed to be as sharp as ever before, but she was rendered mute. One of her last e-mails to me mentioned her understandable frustration at this development.

A few days later she was dead. Her church announced that she “died mysteriously” and that was all I was able to find out. But I could easily imagine what this decisive woman had done. And as usual, I didn’t approve of her decision. But she certainly made one.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Big dark pink Lotus Flower photo

Turning Points

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the paths we take in life. None of us are on the same path, and none of us can really see the road ahead. It’s like driving with a blindfold on. Sure, you might be able to anticipate the occasional pothole or speed bump. You may even be able to correct for such things to a certain extent. But for the most part, we are along for the ride.

We cannot know what curves our paths will take. And then there are those sharp unexpected turns. Divorce. Death of a loved one. Loss of job. Health scares. Violence.

Not all sharp turns have to be negative, though. You might meet the girl of your dreams at the grocery store tomorrow. Or win the lottery. Or find out you’re finally pregnant after years of trying.

The thing I’m interested in is that exact moment when one’s life is forever changed. What is that like, and what is the catalyst? What energy exists in that moment? And why is it occurring right then, instead of 10 minutes or 10 days later? Could it somehow be altered? Is there a way to anticipate it?

When I had to tell my sister that our other sister had passed away, I remember thinking that I was about to hit her like a bumper that impacts with a pinball and sends it careening off in an entirely different direction. It had to be done, of course, but it’s an odd feeling, knowing that you’re about to effect someone to that extent.

There are also sharp turns that we bring upon ourselves, such as my decision to quit my job and go back to school. I had this image in my head of how everything was going to work out. Little did I know that I was making a huge mistake. That moment in time, that instant where I turned off the road into a dead end, is a moment that I wish I could take back.

How strange to think that each one of us could be heading for a sharp turn and it could happen at any second. I suddenly understand why people become agoraphobic. It’s not unreasonable to want to limit your opportunities for impending doom. But that also means you’ll limit your opportunities for impending joy.


Abundance is Mine!

After several years of experiencing profoundly bad luck and making astoundingly bad decisions with horrifying consequences, suddenly the other day I lifted my head up, dropped the thick cloak of depression onto my dusty and neglected floor, and was promptly smacked squarely in the face with abundance.

I got a new job, practically by accident. And it’s the job of my dreams. It even pays slightly more than I was making before.

I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I did to make the pendulum that is my life finally swing back in the other direction, and the conclusion I’ve reached is that I haven’t a freakin’ clue. All I know is that I intend to enjoy it while it lasts.

The older you get, the more you experience the swinging of that pendulum. I have a theory that those who see the pendulum for what it is are less likely to commit suicide. Yes, there will be bad times, but the good times will come back.

Abundance is out there. Wait for it. Be open to it. Welcome it. Be thankful for it.


[Image credit: energy-healing-info.com]