Monday, October 27, 2008

The Weak and the Strong

Who controls relationships? Is it the strong, type A personalities? Is it the older one? Is it the one who has the title? Who controls relationships? I find that it is the weaker person who often controls the relationships. This is counter-intuitive but hear me out on this one.

Isn’t it the weaker that becomes mad and throws a tantrum to get his/her way?

Isn’t it the weaker that becomes upset and pouts to get his/her way?

Isn’t it the weaker that becomes passive aggressive by underhanded yet quiet aggressiveness?

Isn’t it the stronger that calms and speaks of peace?

Isn’t it the stronger that seeks to find out what is wrong and initiates discussion?

Isn’t it the stronger that puts up with underhandedness with an understanding smile of forgiveness?

I find the stronger “giving in” to the weaker because the end isn’t important enough to use any means; because the battle will cause more pain than the wrong outcome. The weak seeks to control by threatening and tearing down while the strong seeks to GIVE by patching, watching over, taking care of, and forgiving.

Ghandi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

The weak make the mistake to think that forgiving is like a gift that we can bestow on those who have hurt us. “Here, take this!” we say as we hand them our forgiveness. But that is the wrong view of forgiveness, or better: that is a WEAK view of forgiveness.

Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

Considering forgiveness a permanent attitude can only be mastered by the strong. Living forgiveness is a barbell attempted only by the brave. The weak control by tantrums, pouts, and the inability to LIFT forgiveness and LIVE forgiven.

How strong are you?

Monday, October 20, 2008


We had finally gotten to Clearwater, Florida after more than a day in our station wagon. The ride had given us a crazy sense of cabin fever cornered with nine people and their luggage in a small space. Car games gave way to bickering hundreds of miles before we arrived so one of the first things we did was stop at a local 7-11 that was close to my grandparent’s Florida home. I ran into the door and filled the biggest cup I could find (there were no Big Gulp’s at the time) and the thickest straw and proceeded to suck down a Watermelon Slurpee. All that cramped up feelings disappeared as fast as the red beverage. My brothers and I forgot our arguing and fights and considered which baseball cards to buy and who would pay for which.

Soon another problem emerged, usually as we made the last slurping sounds with our straws trying to vacuum up the final drops. THEN it hit us all: sphenopalatineganglioneuralgia! Better known as “brain freeze!” The painful headache that comes from something cold spending time on the palate (top part) or your mouth, freezing your nerve endings there and sending painful messages to your brain. Too much, too quick of a good thing causing pain.

Hmm. Do you see an application here? How about:

Gastroesophoganglioneuralgia: Shoving too much good food down your throat cause pain, obesity, diabetes, etc.

UNgastroesophoganglioneuralgia: Causing yourself to NOT eat.

Fearofneighborknockganglioneuralgia: A good neighbor coming over EVERY day, just to talk.

Lotterywinnerganglioneuralgia: Getting A LOT of money too quickly and losing it all in a year which is closely related to:

Spoiledbratganglioneuralgia: Getting everything you want, whenever you want.

Anything good that comes too quickly is not necessarily a good thing. As much as we would all like to be rich and have a lot of money. Most lottery winners will only tell of the pain and heartbreak it caused. We all know what those annoying but cute spoiled brats turn into: Senators! (that was a joke, by the way, okay, maybe not so much).

The corollary to this rule of thumb is that when things are worked at and built up slowly they will last longer and will give you more enjoyment. So ask yourself: Am I sucking at life so hard that I am getting sphenopalatineganglioneuralgia? Or am I building my loves, my life and my self slowly and steadily over time and avoiding the brain freeze?

Signs of the Apocalypse

At the movie theater Frankie and I got our popcorn and drinks and the total came to $12.75. I didn’t have a ten so I gave the young lady a $20 and three ones. She looked at me with a confused expression and then handed back the three ones. I said I didn’t want all the change and handed the money back to her. Again, confused she took the money, rang it into the register, the drawer opened and she handed me the three ones back with a quarter. “I gave your $23” I reminded her, “so I should get back $10.25.” And I gave her back the three ones. She took them, put them in the drawer, stared at the various bills in the drawer, and then counted out ten ones for me and handed the stack to me. It was no longer worth the effort I put the huge wad of bills in my pocket and left with my popcorn.

These are from the internet and anonymous:

I walked into MacDonald’s with a buy-one-get-one free coupon for a breakfast sandwich. I handed it to the girl and she looked over at a sign that also said “buy-one-get-one for free”. She said to me that they were already buy-one-get-one free. I was about to put the coupon away when she took and said, “I guess they are both free then.” She gave me the two without charging me.

One day I was walking on the beach with some friends when one of them shouted. “Look at the dead bird!” Someone near us looked up at the sky and said, “Where?”

While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained, he did not want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, “Does the sun rise in the north?” When my brother explained that, the sun rises in the east, and has for some time now. She shook her head and said, “Oh, I don’t keep track of that stuff.”

I worked at a technical support for a 24/7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call center was open. I told him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He responded, “Is that Eastern or Pacific time?”

My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car designed to cut through a seat belt if she is trapped. She keeps it in the trunk.

My friends and I were on a soda run and noticed that the cased were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought two cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.

I could not find my luggage at the airport baggage area, so I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. “Now” she asked me, “has your plane arrived yet?”

Monday, October 06, 2008

Words can be worth a Thousand Pictures

I read some amazing words today in Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s final address to the cadets ad West Point in 1962. The words themselves actually took my mind into battle with the sounds, smells and feelings of wars long past. The passage is too lengthy to put here but a simple internet search will bring you to those same words.

Pictures and graphics can do much to move you to action, explain situations, and even build memories. But there is something special about words put together in such a way that they take you, in your mind, to places never been. I have never been moved to tears by a picture or a good graphic but I have repeatedly been moved by a letter from a loved one, a song with words that make my heart sing, or a book that tugs on your emotions like a child wanting to play. I enjoy writing and I enjoy going places in my words, they work for me and I hope they resonate with you.

I could say that when I was young I used to play in our back yard. Or I could say:

My childhood on the farm is now filled with memories of the earth. The earth made up of the smell of fresh-cut grass as I rolled and rolled down a small hill in our backyard. I would get up dizzy and ready to do it again with our collie Princess running after me trying to figure out if I was hurt or playing. The earth made up of mudpies my sisters and I would construct in an old chicken-house turned bakery. Earth and water were the only ingredients but taste was only limited by our imaginations as we explained to the gas man who came on the yard that it was a chocolate chip cookie not a simple chocolate cookie as he thought. The earth made up the smell of freshly plow-turned furrows which would exactly fit my (full sized) GI Joe Army Jeep as it raced down the road until ambushed by the waiting enemy. Clods of dirt made realistic, exploding bombs as my hero fought unbelievable odds to eventual victory every hour of play. The earth made up of trees where I dared the impossible climb. Sometimes egged on by my brothers but mostly just to see what was up there. My first remembrance of fear was falling to the earth from a precarious limb and having the breath knocked out of me. The fear didn’t come from the fall as much as it came from the frantic gasps to get air into my lungs. Seconds felt like hours as I lay on my back in the grass wondering if I was going to die. Finally my body found the switch to activate the inhale almost like turning on a bank of breaker switches until you finally found the right one. The earth holds these memories for me and when I look at climbing trees, smell freshly turned dirt, get my hands muddy, or sit on a hillside the earth releases them back into my heart like hugging an old friend.

Words can be worth a thousand pictures.