Dear reader, take heart. All is not lost. There is still kindness and decency in this world. Despite all our divisiveness and infighting and moral decay, the milk of human kindness still flows. The story below is a true one. The good deed was done by a friend of my husband’s, who gave me permission to share it with you, as long as he remained anonymous. The picture is not of the actual dog in question.
It’s important to share the good news, to remind us that now is not the time to abandon all hope. Love still wins. It’s still here.
For all of you out there who spread goodness in ways big and small, thank you.
I bought a dog today. I was taking the feral kitten we caught to the shelter today and there was an old man there trying to pick up his dog. He explained that he had been in the hospital and that his dog was there. He wanted to take it home. They explained to him that it had been there for a while and it was up for adoption. He said he just wanted to take him home. She said he would have to pay the adoption fee and expenses. She told him the cost and he said he couldn’t afford it. I bought a dog today.
I used to know someone who seemed to delight in crushing others’ dreams. When I was young, she approached my mother, all concerned, because I talked about wanting to be a teacher, when the week before I wanted to be something else. My mother responded, “She’s a kid. She’s supposed to try different ideas on for size. Let her be.” (That was probably one of my mother’s finest moments. Thanks, Ma.)
This person went on to have children of her own, and it broke my heart the way she used to deprive them of all hope. When one of her kids said she wanted to be a singer, she was told that you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than become famous.
While that may be true, the message she was sending was, “Why even try? You won’t be good enough.” Because of that, that girl grew up and singing isn’t a part of her life. She might have been famous. Or she might have sung in the church choir and made lifelong friends that way. Or she might have become a music teacher. So many paths were cut off from her life thanks to her mudslide of a mother.
When another one of her kids showed aptitude in one area above all others, she tried her best to discourage him, because it wouldn’t be an easy career. But he lived and breathed it. He did manage to get halfway into it, but never went the distance. I often wonder where he’d be if he had gotten just the tiniest bit of encouragement from the woman he admired most.
It’s so much easier to crush someone than to lift that person up. When you crush, gravity is on your side. But I hope you’ll resist the urge.
Watching people fly, even if it’s away from you, even if the destination remains just out of reach for them, is much more satisfying than having to scrape them off the sole of your shoe.
I’ve been looking for you for years. I often wondered if you were right under my nose and I just wasn’t seeing you, or if I wasn’t looking in the right place. More than once I thought I saw you, and you just couldn’t or wouldn’t see me. I always wondered if you were reading my blog, which was the only way I knew how to show myself to the world.
Did we pass each other on the street without recognizing each other? I’d look into the faces of strangers, hoping they’d see me, really see me, and consider me worth the effort. I’m sure I looked like every other face in the crowd, but inside my head I was screaming, “Where are you?”
It’s been a long, lonely, painful slog. I know you’ve been looking for me, too. If you’re reading this, I’m just glad you’re finally here. All during the search, precious time was passing; this was time I could have been spending with you. It felt like such a missed opportunity.
Every time I saw something new, I wanted to share it with you. Every time I got good news, I wanted to tell you. Every time I hit a rough patch, I wished you were there to comfort me. And there were a lot of amazing experiences I passed up, simply because I didn’t want to go it alone. I hope we still have time to do those things. I hope you’ll want to.
All I’ve ever wanted, really, was someone to travel with, and take naps with, and be playful with and have intelligent conversations with. I’ve wanted someone brave enough to win over and love my psycho dog as much as I do (that alone will weed out the vast majority). I’ve wanted someone who looks forward to seeing me as much as I look forward to seeing him.
I wasn’t looking for glamor or perfection, just mutual acceptance. I want us both to be able to be ourselves. I want someone who gets me. I want us to be able to count on each other. I had that once, and it was abruptly taken away. (I just hate mortality, sometimes.) I miss it.
I want to create a safe and peaceful harbor, together. So if you’re reading this, thank you for showing up. I’m sorry for almost having given up on you. I should have had more faith. But having said that, what took you so long?
During my most recent trip to Canada, a friend and I decided to camp in the wilds of British Columbia. Sadly, the further out you get from Vancouver in the summer time, the more apt those wilds are to be on fire. So we really only went halfway to the back of beyond.
Still, that was good enough for me. It’s a beautiful province. I was thrilled just taking a break from big cities. We camped in Pemberton, Lillooet, and Boston Bar. We saw stars. We stuck our feet in the cold green of the Frasier River. We communed with chipmunks. We met some really nice people. We stopped at some funky cafes. I bought fridge magnets and fudge.
The nicest part was that, other than campsite reservations, we really didn’t have any firm schedule or expectations of any kind. If something sparked our interest, we would stop. As each destination was only about 2 hours away from the last, we weren’t in any hurry.
That’s how we found ourselves, on day three, riding the Hell’s Gate Airtram, not far from Boston Bar. This is a gondola that crosses the Frasier River at its narrowest point. I have a fraught relationship with gondolas, because I have a fear of heights. But they always afford such amazing views, so how can you resist?
And this place has some amazing history. When I imagine Frasier and his expedition actually portaging their canoes up these sheer cliffs, it makes me dizzy. And that’s how Hell’s Gate got its name.
So, I’ve been to Hell’s Gate. Now I should be able to do anything, right? Heck yeah!
And then just down the road from there is the delightfully artsy town of Hope on the edge of the Cascade Mountains, population 6,181. I could totally live there, even though it gets more rain than any other place in Canada. (It was sunny during my visit.)
In less than an hour, I went from Hell’s Gate to Hope. What a positive experience that was! I’m just glad I wasn’t driving in the opposite direction. That would be bad.
Spring is a time when life feels so abundant. Flowers are blooming and there are baby animals everywhere. Spring, for me, is the most hopeful time of the year. I went decades without experiencing it because I lived in Florida. Now that I am in Seattle, I have that hope once again, and I will never, ever take it for granted. It’s such a gift.
But this has been a strange spring. Mortality seems to be trying to get my attention of late. A dear friend of mine has been in and out of the hospital as his kidneys are failing. This, of course, has me extremely worried. I can’t imagine my life without him in it. He’s so young. Too young to be going through this. And then Don Rickles goes and dies of kidney failure. The last of the rat pack, reminding me that this is a big deal.
And then the other day, I Googled an ex-boyfriend just out of curiosity, only to discover that he died two years ago. He also managed to have nine children in the 25 years since I last saw him. But it’s a strange feeling, having boyfriends old enough to kick the bucket.
As I write this, I’m worried about my sister, who goes in for (granted, routine) surgery tomorrow. She’s my last sibling. She’s not worried. But just in case, I called her just now to tell her I love her, and to say that if she up and dies on me, I’m going to be really pissed off. Update: She did just fine and is recovering nicely.
I guess the older you get, the more this type of stuff enters your world–contemporaries dying, or having close calls. It makes life very bittersweet, but all the more precious for the frequent reminders that it’s all so finite.
I can’t remember where I read about this concept, but it appeals to me greatly. Just be. Live in the now. Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. Pure bliss.
It’s not as easy as it looks, though. For example, I’m in the midst of planning my vacations for the year. Obviously, that’s future stuff. And I came across my diary from high school, and have been reading it. Past stuff.
Much of this blog is about past experience or future dreams. And I’m a little stressed because I’ve been sick as a dog for the past few days, so I don’t have as many future blog entries waiting in the queue as I usually do.
Past, Future…see how many times I’ve bounced from one to the other in just the PAST few paragraphs? Why is it so hard to stay in the present? Do we not value it as much?
In truth, the present is the only thing that is real. The way we remember the past changes over time, and we view it through our own biased lens. As for the future, it may not come about. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow.
Heaven knows that the way I had my life plotted out in my high school diary certainly never came to be. Sometimes I look in the mirror and say to myself, “How the hell did you get here?” Sometimes that’s an angry question. Other times it’s infused with gratitude and awe.
But there I go again, reflecting on the past. I’ll have to work on that. Sometime in the future…
While sitting in my back yard the other day, watching the sun drift slowly down to the horizon as my beloved dogs destroyed stuffies on the lawn, I was reveling in how sweet my life has become. It’s every bit as sweet as the fresh organic cherries that I was eating.
In Florida the cherries were not nearly as good. They probably have to be picked slightly unripe in order to be shipped there intact. I had no idea cherries were meant to taste the way they can here in the Pacific Northwest, just as I had no idea life could be this good when I was sweltering in the conservative cultural backwater of ignorance that was Jacksonville, Florida (at least that’s how it seemed to me).
Come to think of it, cherries are a microcosm of life on many levels. You can have three of them, side by side, each as plump and red and beautiful as its neighbor, and yet, when you eat the first one, it will be bitter. The next will have no taste whatsoever. But the third… ah, the third! It will be so appealing and juicy and delicious that it will give you the impetus to try more.
The thing is, you never know which cherry you’re going to get. You just have to keep trying, never give up, and hope for the best. And when you are rewarded with that perfect cherry experience, the bitter or bland ones will suddenly seem to have been worth it.
Life isn’t a bowl of cherries. It’s a series of cherries, one after the other– good, bad, or indifferent. I can live with that level of hope and contentment. I’m just glad I’m now in a place where the odds are even more in my favor.
The other night I met a friend at Seattle’s Royal Room to hear Leah Tussing, an amazing blues/jazz singer. She and her band were wonderfully talented and it was a very lovely way to spend a rainy, blustery evening.
The Royal Room itself is a comfortable, welcoming venue with good food and a relaxed atmosphere, but it was the company that made the event great. I also got to meet some new friends and that’s always a pleasure.
All evening I got to watch my friend and her boyfriend interact, and it reaffirmed my faith that love can be magical. The way he looks at her, like she’s the most wonderful, amazing person on the planet, gave me hope that someone would look at me that way again someday. I miss it.
She also hasn’t been in the best of health this month, and he’s been taking amazing care of her. That feeling of being with someone who has my back like that is another thing I long for. I was beginning to think it was a figment of my imagination.
And the affectionate touches? I will never EVER take a touch for granted again, as long as I live. A touch can mean everything. You don’t realize it until you’ve lost it. Believe me.
Do I sound like I am feeling sorry for myself? On the contrary. That evening gave me hope. I left there feeling all warm and fuzzy, and very happy for my friend. Now I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for me. Anything is possible.
I was talking to a friend about my utter lack of success to date on a dating website on which I’ve registered.
“I have to say I’ve never felt worse about myself.”
My wise and wonderful friend responded, “This is going to sound really bizarre, but your current depression is actually a positive development. For the first time in a long time, you have enough confidence in your job stability and other elements of basic survival that you’ve allowed yourself the luxury of thinking about your next-level needs. That hasn’t happened in ages. And yes, when you assess your progress against those next level needs, it sucks. That is hardly surprising given that they have been neglected for so long while you were in basic survival mode. But now you have time to start paying attention to them. Things will improve.”
Isn’t it fantastic when someone says the exact right thing at the exact right time? There’s a reason this guy is so successful at life. In one paragraph, he managed to get me to stop contemplating my navel and consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and its application in my life. And that allowed me to reframe everything. Once again, I have hope. I have perspective. I can be a little more patient.
What a profound conversation. What an amazing friend. Too bad he’s married! Even so, I think I’ll keep him.
When a heavy cloak of depression settles down upon my shoulders, I tend to feel as if life has passed me by. I start to ask myself what the point could possibly be, and when I’m unable to answer that question I give up hope, and start resigning myself to my fate. Why even try? When I’m in that awful mind-space I genuinely believe that nothing good or new or exciting will ever happen to me again. Ever. And I’ll spend the rest of my life alone. Forever.
And then I proceed to catch up on my sleep.
What usually snaps me out of this mindset is either planning something that I can look forward to, or a heaping helping of reality. That reality usually takes on the form of an event that shows me how erroneous my thought process is. In other words, I get embarrassed out of my depression.
First of all, relatively speaking, my life is pretty darned good. It takes but a minute to read stories of how nasty, brutish and short the average human life can be. For example, how can I possibly feel sorry for myself after looking at photos of the Syrian refugee camps?
But the greatest balm is when I’m inspired by someone who hasn’t given up. In this instance it was all the more stunning because it came in the form of a friend. I love being in awe of friends.
From deep beneath my heavy cloak of gloom I happened to peek out at Facebook the other day and saw that my friend Carole, on the brink of her 73rd birthday, had posted footage of herself jumping out of an airplane. A perfectly good airplane. On purpose. Whoa.
You may not be able to control how people feel about you, but you can do unexpected and exciting things at any age. You can skydive. The sky isn’t the limit. The sky is the starting point. You can be amazing. And that sounds a lot more appealing to me than lying in bed with the sheets pulled up over my head.