Debit or Credit?

“Make plenty of deposits in your karmic bank.”  This is one of my father’s three creeds for life.  I have believed it to be a universal truth for all of my life.  I have over the last couple months seen firsthand the results of what happens when one does not live by this motto…when people act purposefully unkind, when people make withdraws from their karmic bank instead: When people do harm to another without thinking through the consequences, When people kick others when they are already down, When people have only their own interests in mind and not the best interests of another.  I have a very high pain threshold, for myself.  My tolerance to pain both mental and physical is quite strong, but when my loved ones are hurt or are hurting I am like a mamma lion ready to rip out a throat.  When I am in lioness mode I am fierce.

Today I am in lioness mode.  I am angry that someone who has shown me great kindness has been purposefully treated unkindly by others. I am unsure how to handle myself.  Where is my level of responsibility to protect those I love?  Am I partly culpable?  Years ago I heard Eddie Vedder talk about how Pearl Jam is a religion, and he says there is only one commandment, don’t be an asshole.  I have, since I heard these words, every night as I fall to sleep, silently asked myself, “was I an asshole to anybody today?”  It feels good to admit it and ask the universe for forgiveness when the answer is yes.  It is seldom yes.  I try very hard to make my father proud by living his creed, not just uttering the words mindlessly now and again.  I try to make plenty of deposits in my karmic bank.  This belief in “being good” if you will, generally keeps me from violating this one commandment for how I choose to live my life.

My life and my lifestyle has been vastly different since the 5th of July.  I’ve made different choices about how to act and what to say, how to behave and how to blend in, how to protest or object and how to agree and participate.  I am becoming a different version of myself and I feel, deep in my core, that the essence of who is me had been in hiding for so very long due to choices I made and now as I near my 45th year of life, the very me that is me, seems to be blooming.  I feel more “myself” these two months than I have felt in my entire adult life, perhaps because I am finally feeling like I do not have to think THIS way, act THIS way, agree THIS way, look THIS way…perhaps it takes a certain kind of love or a certain kind of acceptance in a relationship for one to be who one is.

As a result of this new found freedom to be, I find that each day I WANT to be a better version of the me I was the day before.  There may not be a RIGHT way or a WRONG way to act, but indeed by behaving in a way that is as authentic as possible, one knows that one is on the good path…I want to do for my Darrin what Samantha did on Bewitched; crinkle my nose and fix things.  I want to call Endora when I need back up.  I suppose if one does not understand karma and the implications of being an asshole, then one can’t see that behavior that makes a debit and not a credit is a really bad choice.  Can I blame these people for behaving with selfishness and unkindness if maybe they do not even realize that they are acting in these ways?  A baby throws food from her high chair as soon as she has the manual dexterity to do so, and only stops doing it when she learns it is wrong…maybe if a person is never taught about karma and debits and credits they just simply do not know any better…My lioness mode has waned during these minutes of writing and now I just feel a little sad on behalf of someone who deserves nothing but happiness.  I can’t make anybody see my way, I can’t make anybody act the way I want them to act.  I can only be accountable for my own debits and credits but I can say a silent prayer tonight, when I analyze my asshole-ishness of the day, for those who do not understand, to see more clearly in the morning.

See-Saw Margery Daw…

The see-saw that my Dad made when I was a year old is still in use, next door to where I live now, by my grandchildren and our neighbors.  He welded the steel frame and used a huge board from a job site and it has been painted as needed, always orange, ever since.   Our back yard in Deer Lake Park, back then a quiet wooded neighborhood with maybe 60 of us children in the whole place, was often filled with kids on the see-saw, and for such a simple “toy” if you will, it got the most use.

It is not hard to see-saw but it takes two to work together and it is all about balance.  One can’t always get to be up while the other is always down, one side can’t have ‘more’ or the other side can’t go down, and it has to be even in the middle when you both get on…up and down, fast or slow, it does not matter, what matters is that these two who have decided to become partners go at a similar pace and maintain equilibrium.

Sure, sometimes it can be intense and fast, updownupdownupdown, and sometimes it can be quietly mellow and slow, U p D o w n U p D o w n, truly it matters not the speed or the force it matters only that balance is maintained.  It is really, when you think about it, the first ‘team’ sport we as children play…two people have to work together to make this see-saw work and when one wants to get off the other has no choice, it ends.

I find lately that I am fighting the need to be a “team player” that I want things to be the way I want them to be, and want things to go the way I want them to go, and want things to be balanced in the direction I think they ought to be maintained…but that is not how real life works and I fear that if I don’t understand soon that COMPROMISE has to be part of BALANCE, I am going to find myself missing out on what can become a very happy life…I don’t want to look back with regret I want to look forward with joy.  In order to do that I MUST learn to see-saw again, to stop being so alone in my way of thinking and my way of doing and to be part of a pair again…up and down, together.  Like that lyric I so love; it’s not always rainbows and butterflies it’s compromise that moves us along. 

I know this much is true…

I read a book years ago, decades maybe, by this name.  Oprah told me to and so I did.  For a long time I read everything she said I should.  I don’t remember many details of the story at the moment, other than that it was a story told within a story…and I loved the idea; two totally different tales being told at the same time…and this morning, I was watching my new friend Joel Osteen and tearing up from his message, as I know as truly as a day is long that it was a message for my new friend to hear, and really HEAR, not just listen to, and it got me to thinking about how life and love and relationships are truly stories within stories, being told at the same time, and with totally different views and details and “truths,” ergo, totally different but yet the same.

Remember that slumber party game called Telephone?  One girl starts a story and then we whisper it to each other down the row of sleeping bags and strewn blankets and bodies and when it gets to the last girl she says aloud what she has just been whispered…and it is NEVER what was started and FREQUENTLY something different in words and concept than the start.  Life is like that in a way, at least for me right now…I hear stories and I hear explanations and none of them are ever what I hear when I go right to the source.  What I know is true is what I hear when it comes from the mouth of the man I now love.  I can listen and pay attention as is my nature to what others tell me and what others tell me from what they heard and from what others tell me from what they heard from others who knew somebody who knew somebody…but nothing carries as much weight or value to me as what I hear from the mouth of the man with whom I now share my life.  That much I know is true.  What matters is the truth that comes from him.

I have struggled for years with trying to make others see that EVERYTHING is about perception and pretty much nothing more.  How I perceive an event or a statement is my own, regardless of the action or concept, it is how my brain processes the information that matters…just like your brain and your perception will process YOUR way…we base everything on our own lives, pasts, wishes, damages, celebrations, successes, and failures.  All we do when we hear things is use our own wealth of knowledge to process and make an assessment…I know this much is true.  What you tell me and what somebody else tells me can all be valid and can all carry some truth and perhaps some embellishment but the fact of it all is that no matter what I am told, and no matter from what source, ALL that I hear still gets processed by my brain and filtered by my framework and perceptions and so all truth becomes “something else” the minute it goes from one brain to another.

That is just a fact that I see as a truth in my life right now.  I can only make my choices and my decisions based on what I hear and know and discover as it then filters through my own beliefs, judgments, philosophies, and understandings…my perception of how things are and who people are is still the ultimate filter because what anybody does or says has to do with only them, nothing to do with me.  I am in love with a man who for some reason everybody wants to tell me a story about…I am done listening.  I am going to only hear the stories that come from him…events and what led up to them, how he handled them and how he didn’t.  Much like many of the events of my past…many people who knew me during the darkest days of my life surely have an opinion and have heard things about what happened to me  and around  me but only I know what is true, what the story within the story is.  How we act towards one another in EVERY situation is our own choice.  I know this much is true.