Tag Archives: fear

Retired Judge

25 Feb

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Although difficult, for me, running against the wind is instinctive.  I wanted to be the peaceful type full of hope and pink ponies and optimism; but ever since I can remember, I’ve taken rough back roads instead of flowing along with crowds down pristine super highways.  I’m not a glass half empty woman any more than I’m a glass half full one.  For me, there’s water in a glass that has plenty room for more.

As a child, I used to groan under my breath at family gatherings when the topic for discussion shifted to the elders’ perception of change.  The word change, it seemed, was interchangeable with self-indulgence and destruction.  “The younger generation is going to bring about the end of everything we’ve built and cast the world over the cliff into a hungry abyss that will swallow it whole.”  Blah. Blah. Blah.

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About this time I would generally inch my way toward the back door, planning escape.  I wish I’d listened more when I was young, paid more attention.  I wish I’d been more respectful of the process of wisdom gathering, opinion formation and varying styles of perception.  These are skills that come to fruition with aging, but I didn’t get it and I was really quite arrogant about it all, shaking my head at the gloom and doom old fools I left in the living room worrying about the future of the planet. It never entered my mind they were worrying about my life, what the realities would be in the wake of monumental change following the Great Depression and World War 2.

However, my perspective shifted noticeably when I crossed the 60 year line myself as I struggled with unsettling feelings of semi-bitterness for the rapid fire changes that had beset a world I was no longer familiar with and often uncomfortable in.

Those were emotionally exhausting days spent holding myself back, or propelling forward like rotted chicken catapulted from a giant sling shot.  And once again, arrogance, as I assumed my way was somehow the best way, often better even than the steady voices of men and women of peace, or the predictions of masterful economic minds, or the advice offered by strategic planners, or the exaggerated threats from political movers, and the woeful forecasts of intellectual shakers.  I was so full of righteous indignation I felt bloated and dour and sad.

Watching a friend lose her way in extraterrestrial philosophies and questionable directives from  guides from the other side, I paused long enough to reevaluate my own beliefs and deal, face to face, with the inflexible judge I had become.

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It was a process.

Just as in childhood, I found myself inching once again toward the back door in an attempt to purge poisons I carried inside.  I thought, ‘perhaps if I fill my lungs with fresh air, or eat an apple in the swing on the front porch, or pick a bouquet of Black-Eyed Susans,’ I might feel better’.  And so I did all of those things and more, binding myself more closely with the cycles of nature and the rhythmic beat of my own heart , mindful of the emotional and mental chaos I’d created in the past and how unsatisfying the experience had been.

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I won’t say I killed the judge inside my soul, but I let her fade away.   I am an observer now; judging nothing, not even myself.

When I choose to watch the evening news and hear the ranting and ravings of judgmental zealots, a sense of calm fills my senses, and I feel the good intentions and the fear inside each loud voice.  I make mental notes about where they are standing, which audience they are addressing, the time of day they speak, lapel pins, the shapes of glasses they wear, and the voices of reporters trying to make names for themselves.

Adults are often little more than large children and that can go either way because a child can engage or detach as he sees fit, but when all of the pieces of the puzzle come together, it is a magnificent occasion.

These days I spend more time paying attention to what other people say.  I love hearing their ideas and opinions; I love reading what they are thinking and how they disseminate unique perspectives and personal views. I learn so much as I immerse myself in both studied and unexplored concepts.  More and more, I spend time reading non-fiction, opinion pieces, and most especially blogs.  The passion and sincerity bloggers express touches my heart.?????????????????????????????????????????????

Every time I experience the strength of another person’s voice, my own grows; but I’m not in love with the sound of my own voice.  My own opinions don’t impress me either.  I often find it difficult to express them now.  Blogging has become more challenging as I struggle to share without preaching.  I’ve learned that listening is an integral part of observation.  So is keeping an open mind.  The boundaries of my perceptions have seeped or bled into the fluidity of the times freeing my mind to explore new possibilities. I’m happy that I don’t feel responsible for the fate of the entire world. I am finally comfortable in my own skin and at peace with the ever evolving world around me.

My Comfort Zone is a Fortress

12 Apr

Stepping into someone else’s life is good for the soul. When the time comes to return to your own reality, you find the walk on the other side has added new dimensions to your perceptions, altering, to one degree or another, your philosophies, enhancing your focus and outlook on the big picture, or fine tuning a smaller one.

Universally speaking, I embrace change, but on a more personal level I cling to long held rituals and habits to carry me from day to day. My comfort zone is a fortress of lessons learned. Inside its walls, I explore the options of adding my personal insights into the vast ocean of public opinion, or withdrawing from society all together. But having walked beside, if not in, another’s shoes, I’m left with a collage of fresh insights which will result in new questions that I will attempt to answer to satisfy the philosophical detective in my brain.

First observations in this new journey simply did not match any of the preconceived notions I’d packed for the occasion. I was terribly overdressed for such delightfully casual sincerity. I was the only person wearing armor in a room full of authenticity. While on the surface, I blended, in my mind I was forced to deal with the dirty truth that the assumption I’d made that I would be judged by others, was itself a judgment, making me a cynic at best, or a hypocrite at the other end of the ruler I was packing.

Reality was shock therapy; thank goodness I was surrounded by compassionate people, good food and playful children. In the end, Karaoke pulled me from the hard grip of fear, and I rose from self-imposed darkness, walking purposefully toward new light.

Day two was more delightful than day one; but with all experience comes self-revelation, and having already blundered my way through a buried mine field of my own fixed opinions, horrifying as it had been, it was time to dig through another pile of soiled undies; and all I could do was to smile and hope for the best. Ultimately, it ended well, but better even than that, the celebratory encounters of two distinctively diverse families moving closer, bridging social gaps, effortlessly forming a comfortable cohesion between contrasting tribes, created bonds that will not be broken.

The week was evolution stuck in fast-forward, covering more ground than shining black Starlings feeding mid-spring in Texas. For me, it was more; it was college. It was a revival of the spirit, a well-deserved kick in the pants jolting me from the status-quo back into the boundless realms of new possibilities.

How glamorous the intoxication of ease, how refreshing not to try to mow one’s yard using only a pair of scissors. But intoxication isn’t a one way street; it’s a thoroughfare, traffic teeming, horns blaring from all directions. It is an invitation to reevaluate the furniture in the brain along with each and every particle of its structure. Intoxication from extremes is an invitation to a dissection and probing study of intellectual properly lines you claim.

My visit to the other side was the holiday that made my reality more beautiful magically. It was the most perfect planet I’d ever visited although I found it lacked the amenities of home, the dust bunnies and loud, clanging dishwasher, the worn oak floors creaking beneath my feet, the quilts softening old chairs and cold plaster walls, hot tea from my favorite cup that was a gift from my eldest daughter, and my Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Tinker Belle sewing turntable, a handmade gift from my youngest daughter.

The truth is: I attended a gathering with preconceived ideas of what I would find there, but what I discovered was inconsistent with anything I might have imagined. Enjoying the lavish lifestyles of people whose paths run parallel to mine, but without an unexpected twist of fate would never cross my own, was an unforeseen opportunity to reassess my values. What I found caught me off guard.

I discovered I had grown intoxicated by the story I called my life, a collection of perceptions of all of the experiences I have had; and I saw that I’ve carried a handy-dandy label maker with me at all times, completely unaware I was doing so. I’ve limited myself, unnecessarily, and it took a walk on the other side of the street to suggest there is a great deal out there I’ve missed. I have the life I want; there is no one in the world I would change places with, but I need to invite the unexpected into my life. I need to stop making excuses for myself, to quit believing it’s too late for anything new and exciting to happen to me. I need to quit asking the question, “Who the hell do I think I am?” and admit that question is an excuse I’ve used to avoid reaching higher.

Why would anyone be interested in reading anything I have to say; who the hell do I think I am anyway? Well, I’m one voice in a Universe of many voices… and after breaking out of my comfort zone, I find I still have a lot to say.