Liberty

From what do you wish to be free?

In honor of Independence day I feel like sharing a small anecdote.

During my life I have spent much time around children, sometimes I was caring for those labeled as neglected, or troubled– coming from “difficult circumstances”, but in truth many of those children were still bright, alive and filled with hope, maybe bruised, but bouncing back. In fact across the years I think the child I felt the worst for, the one for whom my heart hurt, was a boy who did not feel free enough to use his own imagination. This 2 year old boy appeared to live a perfectly “privileged” life, and yet couldn’t play a single game of pretend. When we sang “the wheels on the bus” (that silly, often annoyingly memorable song) I would ask him and his classmates ”where they wanted the bus to go?” then we would imagine driving there, not only would he refuse to play, but he insisted on informing everyone that “we weren’t REALLY going anywhere so there was no point in the game” (he also told them that if they were bad they were going in “the box”…but no matter, just a note to all parents that nothing they do behind close doors stays there).

My point being that to me our ability to be free mentally, to envision how we wish reality to be, to escape the confines of what another or others dictate as truth. That is our greatest freedom. Put any of us in a physical box and we can imagine ourselves out of it, but take away our belief in our ability to escape, indoctrinate us to build that box mentally, even when none exists physically, and then we are truly trapped.

So I ask you once again by what do you feel bound and propose that you at least can take this first most crucial step of being free, that step one no one else has dominion over.

Oh and for the record— you can REALLY go anywhere you want to go.

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…AND NOW BACK TO YOU

Over this stretch wherein I have been experiencing some technical difficulties (i.e. wobbling etc.), I have received many beautiful messages of encouragement and love from you, and I wish for you to know how deeply these are felt and appreciated.

Please also know though that the reason these words are felt and appreciated so deeply is not because I am experiencing some great personal pain (I really couldn’t give two ferns about that, and I’d prefer you didn’t either), but because it is a truly beautiful thing to see such kindness and love in this world—This world needs all that love, humanity needs it, and while you are at it please shine it back at yourself too (know I’m shining it at you as well).

As for this physical glitchy thing or whatever I’ve been up to there, I do mean it when I say that for me it is just  a life trial to learn from, just another means of testing myself to see if, even through these new goggles, the glass still appears half full to me, and it does! Oh and in case your doubting my words, here’s just one short illustration of my silly tendencies: As a young girl when I chopped onions I would often begin to laugh hysterically at each chop, then when asked why, I claimed that chopping onions made me laugh instead of cry…See now of what I speak

In summary, this too is just an onion, most of us have to chop some sooner or later, and you know what they do add flavor…

And now back to the important things.

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Please Laugh With Me*

*Warning-The following content though honest may at times sound absurdly self important. Adding of salt grains might be needed.

‘Tis true, I fall over, and it is an observable fact that seeing me put on my shoes or pick up a small object can be like watching a Stooge (or three), but please accept that this is more of a comedy then a tragedy and do not let your brow furrow, just laugh with me instead.

Glimpse through my eyes for a few ticks of the clock and you will see how very lucky I am. What I see is a world wherein everyone is dealing with trials and troubles, often ones much greater then mine, what I fail to see is why I should not bear mine with ease. What I see is that everything I experience is a chance to enhance my capacity for empathy and for understanding . What I don’t see is why I should be exempt from knowing pain when someone else is not.
And what I see, and thank my lucky stars for, is that I live in circumstances which, and around people who, make it possible for me to continue to live this life– I see this everyday and in so many ways. I see that this should be a world wherein everyone can say the same, though too many live in conditions in which someone like me would not make it through the day. I see that I would truly suffer, like the many who do everyday, if I had to walk for miles to a well to get water, had to run for my life in a war, fight for my survival in a refugee camp or scavenge through garbage dumps for food. So there, I’m a barrel of laughs…Ok I admit that maybe there are times when it preferable not to laugh at me, but they are few and far between.

It is also true that at times I have felt blue (ooh I rhymed!), and times I have hidden myself away, but this is mainly because I find it hard to tolerate knowing that I have caused anyone any sadness, worry or heartbreak. So laugh at me instead and I can share a laugh along with you.

Remember not to ever mistake my life as a sad tale, ’cause if you know me at all, then you know that what I truly want is to bring joy to as many of you as I can, and you also know my biggest fear is that I will fail to do so. And so I ask you to be truly happy and help others to be so too, and in turn I promise you I will do the same…that is while laughing of course!

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Your Right To Be Wrong

From my high office of Average Personhood, as acting Opinion-generator of No Consequence and by the power vested in me by Myself Alone,

I hereby grant thee…

The right to be wrong, to stumble, to bumble, to make wrong turns, to change direction and then change it again, to get lost along the way, to be a constant work in progress. I recommend possibly even wearing a sign warning that you are “under construction”.

I say this because I believe that in order to live a life of any value whatsoever we must: learn, grow, change our minds, expand our point of view, throw out the old and start anew. Perhaps pick it up again, dust it off and reclaim it, look at it with fresh eyes, maybe only in order to discard it once more.

And if we are always learning and growing there is no way we can look back at our choices and feel we would make the same ones given what we now know (I’m sidestepping the notion that we would have to make those mistakes to wind up where we are now, we’ve seen “Back to the Future”). Of course there was a rational, a logic behind why we came to the conclusion that we did, but this doesn’t make it the best conclusion— I like to think of it thus wise, there’s a rational behind why every person has brought to pass anything and everything ever done and I certainly don’t agree with ALL of it.— So to live is to make mistakes.

And yet we live in a society where we too often shame each other for ever being wrong. “That person said something wrong “, “This person wore something wrong “, “They were wrong and therefore will never be right henceforth!”. So we learn to hide our mistakes, deny our miscalculations, and in public we defend the rightness of our deeds to the death, even if behind closed doors we secretly question them.

I fear that as time goes by this need for “rightness” causes us to isolate from one another more and more. As we discover all the ways that we have been mistaken, we associate our wrongness with others. We point fingers and evade certain people’s “wrongness spreading influence”, and out of embarrassment, we avoid being around others who we’ve “egg-faced” ourselves in front of. We fear appearing in public because we might say or do something wrong and we revel in the “wrongnessess” others have committed, because by comparison our wrongness seems much less severe .

But what if we stopped running from our wrongness? What if we welcomed those times we notice the wrong, because they give us the opportunity to be more right in the future? How about we launch fewer criticisms at ourselves, at each other? Instead we could ask the critics to please place it in the suggestion box (in fact I might just wear one around my neck).

So I say we stop defending how right we are despite all of the evidence mounting up against us, and instead defend our right to be wrong— this too often neglected right. ‘Cause when I mull it over, I can hardly think of anything which has more successfully defeated us, then our own failure to alter course when it is called for (ask the navigators of the Titanic) .

I suppose inherent in what I’m saying is the belief that there is no one right way to go about living. I for one don’t know the rules to this thing we’re calling life (and whenever I get too comfortable in the delusion that I do, circumstances seem to change entirely). Someone might know A way, even a very good way, perhaps the best, but that does not mean that they know THE way. Which yes, means we can never “go on automatic pilot”, simply following along in someone else’s steps. Our steps will always belong uniquely to us, so we must allow for the possibility of missteps, otherwise we are safe only in standing still and that’s a very precarious position to remain in ( I’ve only ever seen the odd Yogi who can pull that off with any success ).

To put it succinctly, I think we are in the process of figuring this whole “life” thing out together, so why not simply compare notes? Right? But I’m quite happily wrong.

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Thanks For The Icy Buckets

An open letter of thanks to the ice-bucketed ones and my take for those who question the purpose of the gesture.

I don’t have ALS I have MS, a different acronym, a different set of letters to describe my obstinate body, and yet still, every time I see a silly video of someone dumping icy water on their head, I first smile and then cry–that cathartic kind of cry born from not really knowing that you were sad until the moment happiness sneaks up on you.

Firstly, that is a ridiculous thing to admit to. Secondly, I think that I respond this way because, though I don’t like to talk about it, I so often feel really different and really stupid. Because I go about my days around all of these “normal people” so I attempt to behave “normally” too, but much of the time all I am focussed on is trying not to fall or drop something, or break something as I am falling or dropping something. Because I, like most of us, hate sympathy, but find it hard to always come up with ways to make others laugh at the stumbles or get past the canes, walkers, wheels and speech synthesizers (that’s the cool way that Stephen Hawking speaks).

Now again, I don’t have ALS, but I do feel a kind of kinship with others in the failing motoneuron family. Added to that is the fact that I, like so many, have looked up to Stephen Hawking for my whole life and more recently have found that his being such a valuable participant in this world, even though he too can’t nimbly or gracefully maneuver a body, is a constant source of encouragement to keep fighting to accomplish something worthwhile. 

So to the point, these short silly videos– not of crying or pleading for those “sad, sickly, victims of this horrible disease”, but of shared laughter, fun, silliness, perhaps a bit of uncomfortable chilliness and a “hey, I care and you should too” message– say something profoundly meaningful, they say that all these friends, colleagues, strangers, people we respect and look up to care about this thing too– this thing which we might mistakenly think no one else sees, this seemingly lonely struggle– and not only that, but all these people aren’t running away from, looking down on, criticizing, cringing or crying about it, they are in fact willing to look a little silly too just to show that they care.

So there it is, and as uncomfortable as voicing the personal bits are, I too am willing to deal with momentary shivers to express some much deserved gratitude to all those whose teeth chattered for the cause, cause I’m thinking that perhaps I am not alone in experiencing these feelings. Beyond all of that, isn’t it simply a beautiful thing to see a silly game, with a noble purpose participated in by so many? Isn’t it in brief moments like these that we see what makes humanity eternally lovable?

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