Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vive la Difference? Not a Chance...

For the last thirty days, the "liberal" side of American media have been preaching the "Caitlyn Jenner" gospel--that all good folks of progressive and/or liberal persuasion embrace and admire Jenner for her very public transition. That Jenner identified as female and finally took steps to transition to that reality was to be looked upon as normal, even brave, and not to be criticized in any way. I personally was nearly kicked out of the club because I dared articulate my dislike for the name Jenner chose.

Now, we are all being admonished to vilify Rachel Dolezal. How dare she identify as something other than how she was born, and take steps to live in that reality? What right did she have to actually become a political activist among the people with whom she chose to identify? What kind of flaming nutcase would disrespect the uncrossable lines we've drawn  in our society and think she could actually get away with "passing" for something she wasn't? Seriously...a white woman passing for black? She must be crazy, evil, or at the very least, calculating and opportunistic.

The polar opposite presentations of the two stories--Jenner's and Dolezal's--are a perfect demonstration of how far, indeed, we have NOT progressed as a species. We have a long, long way to go when it comes to breaking down barriers erected by a society with an irresistible tendency toward creating and maintaining divisions between people based upon gender, race, economic status, religion, ethnicity, and any other trait that might make us different from one another. 

Progressive?  Not so much...

Friday, June 5, 2015

Keeping It To Yourself...Just a Thought

I just watched a video posted by a breast cancer patient, in which a good 30% of the time was spent mentioning the things that breast cancer patients do not want to hear. 

The longer I travel on this earth, the more people I meet who have had some kind of tragedy or trauma or catastrophe beset them on their own journeys.  Let’s face it…life is full of those things.  Illness.  Death.  Disaster.  Accidents.  Most of us who have reached a certain age have had fires to walk through. 

But it seems to be a current fad, this getting angry at people for saying the wrong thing, or doing the wrong thing, or stepping outside the bounds of what any given individual believes are the “correct” ways for others to express condolence or support. 

Maybe it’s just a new way for the aggrieved to express the first stage of grief:  Anger.  There is this anger, and nowhere to go with it.   The popular choice these days seems to be to inflict that anger on “outsiders…”—the folks who may have been part of one’s immediate circle before the tragedy, but now find themselves hopelessly separated from the person in pain by the very fact that the tragedy has not happened to them. 

But, it occurred to me, it doesn’t seem like my parents’ generation carried all this angst around about the bad things that happened to them.  And I think it was because certain things were just…private.  One did not speak of inconsolable grief.  They gritted their teeth and kept going (most of the time) because that is what their society expected.  And I don’t think I’m out of line by saying it’s likely our parents suffered a lot more than we do now—losses and illnesses and tragedies that we think of as extinct. 

Somewhere along the line, our generation decided it was “not healthy” not to express grief.  That, basically, we should feel free…no, not even “free,” more like obligated, to cry and wail and gnash our teeth as publicly as possible.  And that’s fine, I guess…to a point. 

But we seem to have forgotten that if we express something in public, we need to expect a reaction.  And we can’t necessarily dictate what that reaction will be.  So, maybe the reason our parents were private with their suffering was twofold:  Maybe they didn’t want to burden their friends and acquaintances; maybe they wanted to spare them the uncomfortable task of attempting to console the inconsolable. 

And maybe they didn’t want to burden themselves with the act of filtering the comments of their poor, bumbling, well-meaning friends.  Better not to have things coming at you that you would need to let bounce off, when you barely have the strength to get up in the morning, much less field well-meaning mis-speech. 

So maybe…maybe the answer, in our say-everything, do-anything 21st century culture is to just…


Sometimes, silence is enough.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Spring and its rowdy successor, Summer, are threatening to catch and overtake me again.  At this stage of my life, I can’t relate to all the bursting forth, all the fecundity, all the “here-today-gone-tomorrow-ness” of the seasons of light and life.  By the time I’m thinking about strawberries, the apples are ripening.  As I begin to lose myself in the beauty of irises, they brown and fade in favor of daylilies, which then disappear before I have turned my eyes fully in their direction.  The sweet scent of the honeysuckle vine tickles my nose for a few seconds and fades, long before I’ve had my fill of it.  Things simply move too fast this time of year, and with each passing year I find myself less able to keep up.

And so I have begun to resent Spring, as I would resent a friend who has moved on and left me behind.  I have no love, these days, for people and things that move too fast, and can’t wait for me to catch up.  An amazing admission from one who has characteristically lived out her life a half-step ahead of, and so, out of sync with, everyone else.  Not a place where I ever thought to be…but so it is.

The lengthening of the days and the leafing of the trees only cause me to pine for the slanting light of Fall, its smoky air and blazing colors.   And then the dignified stillness of Winter…which is not still at all, but is itself bursting with life…but life that is not hidden from me behind heavy veils of green leaves and long grasses, not to mention crowds of fair-weather-loving human beings.

Winter is a season that waits for me.   If I miss something, it gives me multiple opportunities to experience it again.  It pauses long enough for me to see, and watch, and absorb.  It is the friend of my old age. 

But, today…I’ll strive not to give in to my homesickness for Winter, so that I don’t completely miss the joy of Spring and Summer—even if that joy be more a memory of seasons past than of the warm green that slides too quickly through my crooked, work-worn fingers.