Yesterday I wrote a post that was thought provoking. I knew it wouldn’t be some people’s cup of tea. That, in fact, was the case. Sometimes when we write we don’t think about how others interpret our words. The thing that I love about word press is that the resulting comments were so kind and clearly looked for my meaning. That is so appreciated.
This forum has brought nothing but kindly worded comments even if there were differences about what was posted. This is a great blessing. I know that putting my thoughts to paper do not always speak clearly what I mean. This does happen. It is so nice to know that we can communicate with kindness AND honesty. There are so many places that sharing thoughts does not get that kind of response.
I want to say how happy I am to communicate in a place that allows us to share, agree, disagree, and still keep the conversation going. This also gives us the chance to maybe give a clearer meaning to our words.
Thank you Word Press community.
This is a re-blog of something I wrote a while ago. It came up recently and so I thought it needed to be said again.
People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.
You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)
God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)
Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)
I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)
God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)
Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)
Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear
Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?
I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?
I am so sorry
I will call you soon (only if you really will)
Give a hug
Cry with them
Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.
Most importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!
Last night while we were out to dinner I noticed a number of teens at another table. Every one of them had on something that touted a designer. Labels. Every shirt had a label on the outside. It was important for people to know that they could afford designer clothes.
Discreet is no longer a word. (In so many ways.) Now everyone wants you to know that they have something special. It is not just teens. Think about all the expensive purses that some women long for. Even some shoes have initials on the outside letting the public know that you can afford them. People sell knock-offs and they are bought by those longing to be able to afford them. It is lusting after prestige.
We didn’t end up that way of our own accord. When I was young you would never be caught wearing something with the label on the outside. It was considered gauche. Gradually more logos appeared on things, crocodiles and polo players. From there it was an easy jump to selling things that announced how expensive they were. Advertising helped to lure us into the idea.
Now almost everything has a label you can see. We want everyone to know the value. We do the same thing to people. We give them labels. Some are simple and based on appearance…thin, fat, old, young. These labels know nothing about the person. If asked to describe someone we would use them.
Other labels are not so easy…stupid, crazy, not right. These have to come from some further knowledge of a person. And yet, the person is not really known. It is a label used to put someone in their place. It is a label to make “us” feel better about ourselves. It is a label to create “us and them.” It is a wrong and biased label.
Labels can be used for many reasons. Some carry little weight and others can be devastating. We really don’t know what is on the inside. That shirt with the designer label can be poorly made when you look at the inside. The plain shirt may be perfectly put together if you choose to look at more than the outside.
Be careful of labels. They do not show the whole story. Be willing to look past the label to what is inside.
Ordinary has gotten a bad rap. There is nothing wrong in being ordinary. It’s just that the word sounds so bland. If we consider ourselves ordinary we think we fade into the background. No one notices us. We can feel that we don’t count.
Am I ordinary? In many ways I am. I lead what can be considered an ordinary life. I am middle class, bright enough, average looks…nothing unusual. At least that is one way to look at it.
For some of us ordinary could be a goal. If we struggle with being different, or at least see ourselves that way, ordinary could sound really good. Ordinary would look like everyone else…. the ability to fit in. And we struggle with not being able to. But we do fit in…just into our own place.
The truth is we are all ordinary in the good sense. Each of us has a place in the world. Each of us has something to give to the world. Each of us is important. Each life doesn’t have to shout “see me! see me!” to have meaning. Just being who we are is extra-ordinary enough.
The person each of us is has a role. Each of us is a part of life. Each of us is really extra-ordinary. There will never be another you or another me. That is enough.
I am finally coming to the end of being the administrator of my best friend’s will. She died 2 1/2 years ago. You do not want to die in the county she lived in. This was a simple will but the judge there made it a nightmare to get through.
Mr friend’s life was not easy. She had two boys and much later on a girl who was born with major heart defects. Life was never the same after that. It is so easy to concentrate on the sick child and not be able to manage the others. She and her husband struggled and some events caused one son to be sent away. The other developed an unforgiving mode and when hurt (which has happened several times…badly) is unable to let go of resentment and anger.
The saddest part of all is that the two men are unable to even be in the same room. The anger goes too deep and has been there too long. It hurts me to see this as one of them has no one else.
Holding on to anger and being unable to forgive does not hurt the person we are upset with. It only hurts us. Anger eats away at our insides and prevents us from being the person we could become.Not being able to forgive affects us emotionally and physically. Not only does it make us miserable but it changes us into a person unable to accept relationships easily if at all. My attempts to express reasonable alternatives has landed on deaf ears.
I pray for these two and hope that something will change over time.
I was remembering this song by the Kingston Trio from my college days.. 1960’s.
They’re rioting in Africa
They’re starving in Spain
There’s hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The french hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don’t like anybody very much!!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away!!
They’re rioting in Africa
There’s strife in Iran
What nature doesn’t so to us
Will be done by our fellow man
The sad part about this song is that is it still true. The line: The whole world is festering with unhappy souls, especially strikes me. It is so sad that song was written over 50 years ago and nothing has changed. I guess at the time I really thought that the world would be a better place but it’s possible that it is worse.
It does seem logical that with the enormous population growth and the availability of information at our fingertips we would either draw closer together or further apart. Maybe both things are happening. (if you can hold two opposite things at once)
If only our accessibility to the world would grant us better understanding. If the population continues to grow at this rate we will have to learn to live together or die out. My daughter lived in Japan for a while and experienced the way that people living in such juxtaposition to each other have learned to manage by their awareness of personal space and their ability to center down into themselves among others.
We have to learn new ways to love and accept each other. Life depends on it.
“Until you dig deep you only know a small part of the human heart.” Another quote from “Tea Time for the Traditionally Built” By Alexander McCall Smith. His books about Botswana have much wisdom in them.
We can’t know everyone really well. It’s not possible. In most cases we don’t even try to. We only see the outside…the piece that people show to us. Too often we all are wearing masks and don’t want to let anyone in. It is difficult to get beyond the mask. Sometimes we can’t.
Sometimes there are people who drive us crazy…people who get on our last nerve. We can hardly bear to be around them. Then someone tells us that they spend all their time caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s. And lo! we realize that the person who seemed so awful to us was too stressed, anxious and tired to be nice.
We had to dig deep to find out what it is like where the heart lives. We have to be willing to be the caring person. We have to open ourselves to the idea that there may be something in their life to explain how they act.
I have met a lot of people in my life. Some of them I never wanted to see again. I may have been right about some but I also may have been wrong. I didn’t take the time to find out. I hope someone else did.