The Other Shoe

My whole life, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. That feeling intensifies when things are going well. Because I can’t have the nice things. I’ve never had the nice things. At least, not for long.

Sooner or later, everything seems to turn to sh**. If I’m braced for it, I can usually handle it, and come out the other side. I’m nothing if not a survivor. But if that darned shoe takes me by surprise, then that would be bad. Really, really bad.

I remind myself of Nelly, a wonderful dog, who flinches every time you reach out to pet her sweet head. She knows all about what having it bad used to be like. She learned early that flinching can soften the blow. How do I explain to her that I love her, and I’ll always love her, and I’ll never hurt her? She deserves to be petted and cuddled and adored. I want her to be able to own it.

I deserve the good stuff, too. I know it. And here lately I have been experiencing it. And I enjoy it. Mostly. But I can’t seem to get out from under that mental shoe of mine. It’s always there, stinking up the place.

I think there are a lot of people out there, walking around with a shoe in their heads. Please be patient with us. We may not show it well, but your goodness really is appreciated. Probably even more than it would be if we were one of those lucky shoeless people.

one shoe

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So Lucky to Miss You

A lifetime ago, I was traveling with a friend and having a wonderful time. But at one point I did mention to her that I missed my boyfriend. (I can’t even remember who the guy was, which tells you a lot about the passage of time.) To my shock, my friend got really, really angry with me.

Apparently, she was of the opinion that if you are busy missing someone, you can’t also be enjoying yourself, and I was therefore allowing myself to spoil the trip. To this day, I can’t relate to that mindset at all.

You see, when I am having a great experience, that’s when I tend to miss people the most, because I would dearly love to have the people I care most about with me to share in those joyful times. I can’t imagine thinking otherwise. It seems like a natural conclusion to draw.

I’m not going to start avoiding the good times, just so I won’t miss my loved ones. That would be absurd. And besides, I don’t think that yearning for someone’s company is necessarily a negative emotion.

I genuinely believe that I am lucky to have people that I miss. It means I’ve built up strong relationships over the years. It means that there are people who matter a great deal to me. It means that I know what it is to love.

Life will take you to many places. Sometimes the people most significant to you will be unwilling or unable to follow. They have their own journeys, after all. And sometimes their lives will be cut short, leaving you to forge a path on your own.

So cherish the missing. Revel in the fact that you have someone to miss. Be glad that love is a part of your life. What a gift! It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Moving Moments

My friend Jim told me the other day that when he saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, he was moved to tears. I totally get that. Sometimes you are just struck by the pure, intense beauty of the moment.

Since, for me, these moments are rare, they seem all the more precious. Because of that, they reside firmly in my memory. I would posit that when you are moved to tears, you are never more firmly in the moment, the now. You are there, man. Totally there, and completely grateful to be alive. It’s the best feeling on earth.

I love both experiencing that and also witnessing it in others. When someone cries while saying their wedding vows, it completely does me in. (And I don’t even like weddings, usually.)

I remember when I took this picture. I had finally gotten my first bridgetending job, after a lifetime of jobs that I absolutely hated. I was standing on the balcony, watching the sunrise, and thinking how lucky I was to be able to witness this miracle, and to be getting paid for something I love to do. I’m glad the camera had automatic focus, because it was hard to see through my tears.

Wishing you moments of absolute and utter joy, dear reader.

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An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Timing

For the first time in my life I have a job with a decent retirement plan. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job until age 50, so I’m still going to have to work until I drop dead. Timing. It’s all about timing.

I think about timing quite a bit. Some people are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. They buy low and sell high. They start young. They remain committed. They make good choices.

A lot of this seems to be less about good planning and more about dumb luck. And who you’re connected to. I am only speculating, though, because for the most part luck has eluded me, and I don’t really know anyone of influence.

Then again, it’s possible that I’m luckiest person on earth. It may be that I was supposed to step off that curb 30 seconds earlier and get run down by a bus. I may have been one squirt of pesticide away from dying from some horrible disease. Who knows? Life is a big bell curve, and no one can be sure exactly where one is located on that spectrum. Things could always be a lot worse, or a lot better.

Often I’ll meet men whom I strongly suspect I could have had a fantastic life with. But they’re already taken. Or they’ve been hurt so much they’re not willing to try. Or they’re about to move to another state. Or there’s so much going on in their life at the moment that they don’t even see me for the perfect mate I would be. Or their very life gets tragically cut short.

That’s why I really love string theory. I can look around, see all the possibilities that are not bearing fruit in my world, but get comfort from the idea that somewhere, somehow, I am actually living all of them out.

Timing.

[Image credit: fooyoh.com]
[Image credit: fooyoh.com]

Dumb Luck

I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly lucky person. I’ve never hit more than two numbers on the lottery. I’ve never bought a dusty item at a yard sale that turned out to be worth millions (or even hundreds). I’ve never dated anyone who didn’t turn out to be just as bat sh** crazy as I am. I’ve never been discovered for my talents. I’ve never gotten in on the ground floor of a really lucrative investment. I’ve never inherited anything of note. I’m not outstandingly beautiful, and Lord knows I don’t have the metabolism of a hummingbird. I’ve never caught a baseball while sitting in the stands.

But the other day I had a sneezing fit while going down the highway in rush hour traffic, and when it was over I realized I’d probably gone the length of two football fields with my eyes closed, surrounded on all sides by other cars. It’s good to be alive.

And I always seem to manage to get the best dogs on the planet. What are the odds?

I am employed at a time when jobs are hard to come by.

I have been born white and American at a time when that seems to accord me privileges that I didn’t earn and mostly do not deserve.

So far, knock on wood, I haven’t had any life-threatening health issues. I’ve even managed to make it through major surgery. And now I have decent health insurance, thanks to Obamacare.

I have the best sister in the world, and the most amazing friends.

And I have to say that I have fallen in love with this blog.

So I guess I’m pretty darned lucky after all.

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[Image Credit: whats-your-sign.com]

Random Thankfulness

It wasn’t hard to come up with a blog topic for Thanksgiving Day. In spite of an annoying tendency to feel sorry for myself for the past few years, I really do realize that I’m quite lucky, relatively speaking. So here is a list of things that I’m thankful for. It’s not all inclusive, of course, and by no means is it in order of importance.

  • My dogs, who have always given me a reason to tie a knot and hang on when I was at the end of my rope.
  • Pizza delivery.
  • An employer who has been willing to re-hire me twice.
  • Hot water.
  • My intelligence. The thing I’m most confident about in life is that I’m capable of learning anything if I put my mind to it.
  • Seasons.
  • A car that usually starts.
  • Chocolate.
  • The roof over my head. I may not really be able to afford it, it may not be where I want it to be, but it keeps the rain off.
  • Sex.
  • Sunrises, sunsets and rainbows.
  • Immunizations.
  • My closest friends, who have always helped me keep things in perspective.
  • This blog.
  • Natural beauty.
  • The internet.
  • My government. It may be increasingly screwed up and insane, but I can be fairly confident that there won’t be a military coup, that the highways will stay paved, and that no civil war is imminent. Not everyone can be so sure of these things.
  • Train whistles and fog horns.
  • Public television and public radio.
  • My sister, who will always have my back, as I have hers.
  • Air conditioning.
  • The fact that I have never once in my life gone to bed hungry.
  • Art.

I’m grateful for these things not just today, but all year ’round. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Natural Insensitivity

When I was about 5 years old, I had a “lucky” rabbit’s foot keychain. The fur was dyed green, which was supposed to make it even more lucky. I would pet this key chain for hours, because the fur was so deliciously soft, but I’d get this little frisson whenever I’d feel the bones underneath.

I was a fairly sheltered kid. I didn’t really realize what I was holding in my hands. Well, I did, but not really. I didn’t think of the rabbit’s violent end or the grizzly process involved in making the foot into a keychain. If I had, I would have never bought one. When researching for this article, I was horrified to discover that these creepy things are still readily available and seem to be popular, although I haven’t personally seen one in about 30 years.

I know that these rabbits’ feet talismen have been a tradition in many parts of the world since around the 600’s, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why. I mean, obviously they aren’t very lucky for the rabbits. The karma alone of having this little part of the corpse of Thumper dangling upon your person seems a little prohibitive to me. But that’s me.

Somewhere in the world, someone is sitting next to this heaping pile of rabbit corpses, picking them up one by one, and chopping their furry little feet off. Crunch… crunch… crunch… perhaps throwing the feet in a pile to the left, the corpses over their shoulder, then gluing metal key chain caps over the exposed bones. That is their job. That’s what they do every single day. I’d like to meet that person. I’d like to look in his or her eyes and see what’s there. Or what’s missing.

Maybe the rest of the rabbit is used for good. Maybe they make huge vats of hasenpfeffer stew, can it, and distribute it to all the food banks in the world. Maybe the fur is used to line the coats of homeless people in Greenland or Alaska. I don’t know. I kind of doubt it, though.

But then, I have a lot of nerve taking the moral high ground while sitting here in my tennis shoes with their patches of suede, after just having eaten a hamburger.

rabbits Foot

My Four Compass Points

I’m recovering from a cold and completely devoid of inspiration today, so I’ll leave you with the 4 extremes of my travels.

The furthest west that I’ve been is Santa Monica, California.

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The furthest east that I’ve been is Göreme, Turkey.

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The furthest south that I’ve been is Mitla, Mexico.

Mitla Decor

The furthest north that I’ve been is Saint-Siméon, Canada.

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How lucky am I? 🙂