Mother’s Happiness

I know little of what my parents thought about any deep subject such as a philosophy of life or their world view. I managed no more than hints or rare tidbits. Regarding my father, I remember too much of the bad and little of the good. The opposite is true of my mother.

I remember more in Mom’s case, and most of it good. The few bad memories were usually not her doing. Mom may have had her share of bad days, but I can’t remember one that was her fault.

My clearest memories are the pleasant ones about our overall relationship. We were close. Not in the best of friends sense you may hear some parents brag about. Mom was my parent – not my friend.

As a teenager or young adult, I would have railed against being called a “momma’s boy.” I now look back on our relationship with pride.

My mother protected me, mostly from Dad, but also from a few other things. Oddly, not from bullies. If I developed an early skill in dealing with them, it was avoidance. Later in life, my approach was more direct. Conversely, she liked telling people how she often broke blood vessels in her hands spanking me. I don’t recall any of that.

She and I argued our share. I was a momma’s boy – not a good or obedient boy. There were times when I was disappointed in her for not coming to my aid. Looking back, I now realize how right she was.

When she did help me, she did it her way. She helped me in a manner that permitted me the dignity of learning difficult lessons the hard way – which was apparently my preference. When she felt like I needed to learn a painful lesson, she gave me the space I needed. I now realize how difficult that must have been for her. My mother’s love for me, and mine for her were never in question.

When Dad’s health was declining and she felt like she needed to help him, she postponed action on the lump in her breast. After his death, she moved on to her own health care. Everything she did during the period of that treatment, she did with the occasional assistance of her sister. My sister and I lived too far away to be of much help.

While Mom was a long-term breast cancer survivor, the invasive disease brought on her death only after she decided to end most of the treatment.

But years before that, the spot on her lung had been removed and she was recuperating in the hospital the day my flight from Texas arrived in Pennsylvania. Walking down the hospital hallway, the sounds and smells were unique. I would know where I was had I been awakened blind.

As I walked down the hall following the directions I’d been given, I knew I would take the next right into another hall, then right again into her room. I anticipated walking in and finding her groggy and sore from the surgery. I envisioned her smiling up at me, weak and tired. I turned the corner.

The window at the end of that hall looked down on the hospital’s parking lot. Its sill of hard tile was about a foot deep. My recovering mother could easily sit there and gaze down to the parking lot, watching for me.

When she heard my voice, she turned her head and saw me walking toward her. The day after surgery, my 70-something mother jumped off the sill and started running toward me. Mom drove her five-foot-tall frame hard against me, wrapped her arms firmly around me, and then pulled my face down and kissed me.

After I suggested that she get back into bed, we walked to her room and she slid back onto the sheets and pillow. Mom was excited and chatty. She was always happy to see me. But on that day, her response was overwhelming. The doctors and nurses kept Mom alive. All I had to do was walk down the hall at the right time. I became the star of her show. I will always remember how happy she was to see me that day. I’m glad I could help.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere.
Look both ways and mind the gaps.

X – Xu and the Gong (NaPoWriMo #28)

Why do we have x-words, if they sound like they start with z? I’ve discovered the word formerly used to denote a Vietnamese sum of money. The xu (pronounced soo, as in moo, you, or too) is one-hundredth of a dong. Can you see where I went with this? Enjoy!

***

A Xu for You
by Bill Reynolds

I found a lucky Xu
I wanna give it to you.
Ninety-nine more, you kin get a dong.
What’s wrong? Duncha wanna a dong?

With yer dong, ya can get along.
That’s right. You can have a long dong.
A long dong with a song, all…
For a measly, simple xu.

So, wacha gunna do?
First a xu, then a dong.
With yer dong, get a gong.
Bang a gong with yer dong!

So, let’s sing the song,
Let’s bang the gong
You got a dong, so…
Let’s get it on.

***

 

 

Look both ways, then sing the song and bang the gong.
Let’s get it on, but mind the gap in yer dong when you sing the song.

Sunday Lions (NaPoWriMo #23)

My Lion Friend

***

Sunday Lions
by Bill Reynolds

*

I’ve never met a lion,
Except in the zoo.
Never seen a lion,
It’s in the photos that I do.
Never touched a lion,
Only in my dreams.
I never loved a lion,
But in my heart, it seems
Lions are my friends,
The ones I never knew.

***

Look both ways, mind the gaps, and love the animals.

S – Sonnet “Seeking the Truth” (NaPoWriMo #22)

This, my first sonnet, was difficult. It was also fun and I learned more about the challenges of writing poetic. I want to work more with meter and rhyme, but now’s not the time.

I attempted to write in the Shakespearean tradition of a sonnet, with 14 lines of 10 syllables each, with a rhyme scheme of abab, cdcd, efef, gg; and the iambic pentameter. Like we all know what that is, right? My humble apologies to the Bard for attempting such a sacred task. 

***

Seeking the Truth
by Bill Reynolds

In seeking the truth, I require some proof,
My goal to touch some real conclusion.
A quest to discover both reason and truth,
The turning of pages led to confusion.
Noble the search for answers not pallid,
From myth; if I am, then god must be too.
From science we ask, a source that is valid,
From faith of past, must it be now so true?
These are the chains of unfounded mystique.
None of this means any absence of love,
Admit to the truth, there’s no god to seek.
My freedom is not a power above.

I found this truth after seventy years,
Loving all others is more happy cheers.

***

Look both ways and you’ll see them coming.
Minding the gaps will keep your heart running.

K – Kismet (NaPoWriMo #13)

Kismet (kiz-met) means destiny, or fate; or a power that is believed to control what happens in the future. The word kismet come to us from Turkish, originally from the Arabic word qisma (keese-mah), meaning portion or lot. There is so much poetry about, or related to, kismet that it seems to be its own type within a genre.

Specks: Coincidence meets Kismet
By Bill Reynolds

Among the billions traveling through space…
Two specks of dust without direction or purpose,
None aware of another, simple lifeless vectors of eternity
on pointless, unrelated journeys to nowhere.

Each born of events eons past in both time and distance,
mindless entities uncaring, without purpose or reason.

Unguided, random, alone, on endless journeys to
nothingness, absent of all consciousness, awareness, or
desire in the vast universe of both
loving and frightening utter insignificance.

They do not know, do not feel, do not see, do not care.
Mindless and might be as well, not to exist at all.

Set apart in time and distance, spirits within–
Still unfulfilled, unknowing of self, unknowing of others.
Closer they loom but continue to wander,
thru time and thru space with nothing to ponder.

Then a fire starts to burn. There is something.
A light. A spark. A slowing from forever’s pointlessness.

Slowly, one at a time, a special day, each glides to a stop…
With spirit and magic, of others around they’re now more aware.
Spirit knows life and begins to evolve,
with wonders and mysteries yet to resolve.

They notice things now, a rhythm, a beat they can hear;
There’s movement within, fluid awareness begins.

There are noises and smells, they feel things
And notice more, it’s like nothing before.
Now being, now joining,
Each has become, part of life here on earth.
Each morphs into a part of the soul of a child.

Each has one life and each grows to a person…
with love and with needs, and all that should follow.

What was that fire? Where did it start?
Both still in the universe, but no longer apart.
Each gradually feels more awake, more abiding,
Each strives on and on, to be with one who is living.

People and places and sights and sounds.
Emotions and tastes and the hearing of life.

The specks found common goals, one mission in life,
to find something missing, the whole of it all.
Through the eyes of their hosts, each speck meets the other.
Instantly their kismet arrives, as love for all their lives.

Their kismet has sent them to be as they are,
from that moment on, they’re forever together.

Now fully aware of why they are here,
the hosts of the specks become a great couple.
In love and now bonded together as one,
they move through this life, both sharing a fate.

A journey of eons with circumstance shared…
the past has been long, their future’s eternity.

Has coincidence brought two lovers together?
Or was their kismet at work without a conclusion?
The humans may pass, but the specks live forever.
Their love will go on, into ever and ever.

 

What is our kismet?
Seek your destiny — but look both ways, and mind the gaps.

The universe is important. Click here to learn all you need to know,
in about four minutes. It’s well done and funny.

 

Who Ya Gunna Kill?

Intrigued? It's murder!

Intrigued? It’s murder!

Seriously? Would you? I spent a career in the military. Flying B-52s would have removed me from the carnage by five miles, but I never dropped bombs on people. Fly all day, spend a few minutes dropping whatever (normal or ‘conventional’ bombs, various kinds of nuclear bombs or missiles, or mines into water like harbors or ports), then home and to the club for a night of brews and pizza before going out again in a day or so. I just missed out on that fun (not) routine in Viet Nam.

I was trained to shoot three guns: two rifles and one pistol. But I never shot anyone either. I spent a career as a trained killer, but I’ve never killed. I don’t even hunt. And, at least for now, I don’t own a firearm. However, I have no doubt that I would kill. War is different. Self-defense is different. I am not a pacifist.

Per the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the most dangerous regions in the world for murder and other violent crimes are Africa, Caribbean (toss in Brazil), and Central America. Canada comes in at 89th with about 516 murders, and the US at 92nd with 12,253 (both based on rate by population). Australia seems to have virtual love fest going on and is way down the list. But I want to look at this from a personal, more individualized perspective.

murder-3A few days ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek note on Facebook about how I did not whack some guy because my wife would kill me, had I dispatched the fool to his happy hunting ground. The fact remains, people kill people. I cannot imagine doing that except in self-defense or war. Neither of those would be considered murder, even in the biblical sense. Why do humans kill each other? Mental illness aside, why do we do it?

Here’s a little clip from J. D. Robb’s book, Glory in Death, p 138.

“Biblically speaking,” Nadine put in, “murder is the oldest crime.”

“You could say it has a long tradition. We may be able to filter out certain undesirable tendencies through genetics, chemical treatments, beta scans, we deter with penal colonies and the absence of freedom. But human nature remains human nature.”

Those basic motives for violence that science is unable to filter: love, hate, greed, envy, anger.”

“They separate us from the droids, don’t they?”

“And make us susceptible to joy, sorrow, and passion. That’s a debate for the scientists and the intellectuals. But which of those motives killed Cicely Towers and Yvonne Metcalf?”

Later they add thrill as basic human motive for violence.

Can this be for real? Do people kill because it’s fun? Sorry, that can’t be considered normal. But those other emotions can account for a lot of murders. Love, hate, greed, envy, and anger are common human emotions. And yet, people kill strangers for cutting them off in traffic. We call it road rage, but it’s anger. Statistically, murders of women are often done by male mates, partners, or lovers. What’s up with that?

The countries in the high murder-rate areas that I mentioned have significant drug trafficking problems, and many (but not all) have high rates of poverty. Figuring out motives and getting them into the right categories would be a challenge internationally. So, tell us. Who ya gunna kill?murder-4

It can be a dangerous world out there.
Carefully mind any gaps. Look both ways before crossing borders, fences, or red lines. And, watch for droids.

Morality Series: Envy

envy-3

“Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not achieve peace.” ~ Buddha

Let’s say that you and your close friend try out or compete for the same thing. It could be making the team, getting either a promotion or an award, or winning the lottery. You learn that your friend makes the team, got the promotion, or won the prize. You did not. How do you feel?

First, if you are an adult, you’re happy for your friend. If you’re a teenager (or you need to read The Untethered Soul), you may get out the voodoo doll and some pins, or begin some plot against your former friend.

envy-4We may begin to feel something else. It’s an emotion that we don’t want to feel, but it’s there. It’s a twinge we feel on the inside that is directly related to our disappointment and that other person. We feel envy. We do! It’s normal, and it’s okay as long as we don’t act-out on that negative emotion. I’ve never received recognition or a promotion (that others also wanted) without someone letting me know of their displeasure.

One time, I asked this guy, “Did you want me to turn it down so you can have it? I know you think you deserved or wanted it more than I did. Don’t you feel just a little petty right now?” I have been on the losing end enough times to recognize his emotion. Myself and I have had talks about that. I don’t like feeling envious. It makes me feel worse. Envy is not unusual. I often admit to the feeling.

So, if this is normal, why is it considered another breach of all that is good and holy within us? The reason is simple: this is not a good thing about our human nature. We know that envy is normal, and that it will pass, but it’s also dangerous. Loving friendships have ended. Businesses have suffered. Shame and embarrassment have been coopted by envy because the accompanying behavior make us feel worse. Envy is part of us, a dark corner of who and what we are. We must acknowledge that part of our dark side.

There is a shallow envy that is part of daily life. When I see men of my age with huge locks of thick, beautiful hair (usually gray), I feel mild envy. I admit it. I want what they have. That guy did nothing to deserve to have more than his share of hair follicles so late in life. I did nothing to promote my loss of the same. I’m almost proud of my envy. It’s true. I own up to it. I get it: envy is the desire for others’ traits, status, abilities, or situation.

In Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas said, “Envy, according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life… Charity rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it.” Why do we do this? Because other people are so much luckier, smarter, more attractive, and better than we are. Lucky bastards.

envy-2But there’s good news. If you go to Hell, your punishment awaits: you’ll be put in freezing water. I looked it up. Think about that. Hell, fire and all that; and you and I are hanging out at the ice bar. Now, it’s their turn to be envious, right?

I don’t know why, but envy is associated with the dog and the color green. Oh, right, the green-eyed monster. Not so fast. I use envy and jealousy as two different words that apply to different kinds of situations.

Envy and jealousy are not the same emotions. Envy, as unpleasant as it can be, usually doesn’t contain a sense of betrayal and outrage. Jealousy needn’t contain a sense of inferiority. The difference is in the numbers.

Envy is a two-person situation, jealousy is a three-person situation. Envy is a reaction to lacking something. Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something or someone. Of course, when we feel jealous, we often feel envious as well.

envy-1

The opposite of envy is supposed to be charity. I think the more accurate word is love. Some experts say kindness. I say love, not because love will prevent envy, but because our love will help us overcome that part of our dark, selfish selves and we’ll find peace and happiness sooner. Love is the primary emotion. Envy and jealousy are both subordinate to fear, which is also primary. Both fall under the heading of wasted time and emotions since neither accomplish anything.

But, as long we are normal humans, we must deal with our feelings and emotions. It’s all about how we feel. The actions we choose to follow our emotions are up to us. Can we at least balance some light with our dark side?

Envy is real and normal. So is jealousy.
We generally see them as bad, weakness of the spirit, and damaging to life and our relationships. Consider both to be among life’s gaps.
Mind those gaps and look both ways. We need to see our own human darkness and weaknesses and deal with them.