Wonder and Woe

Soapbox LogoI am caught between wonder and woe; nearly every single day, these warring emotions capture me and tangle me up. As I scroll through social media, the various news media I regularly read and television news, there are days I am simply unable to process the entirety of our national tragedy. I am seized by the images of where we are as a nation and as a people. As I said, I am stuck between wonder and woe.

Woe, what is it really? How to describe woe, I don’t use the word lightly or simply for effect. The word is one that describes profound sadness, grief or distress. Is this what I feel when I scroll through all my sources of information each day? Do I sink into a miasma of distress at the state of our union, the answer is yes I do more often than not. My grief at what is lost is deep and sits on my heart with great weight. All that came before this moment in time seems to have been for nothing, though I know this isn’t the truth; it is how it feels right now.

Woe, as if an assassin was sneaking in and burying a stiletto in my spirit. It is impossible to avoid the ugly. From the foolishness of elected officials placing dollars over citizen lives to the citizens practicing their 2nd Amendment Rights without a care in the world for their or anyone else’s life. While most of us watch in awe at the sacrifices of first Health care workers stand in the street as a counter-protest to those demanding the stay-at-home order be lifted in Denverresponders and medical care providers, some would stand before them and scream they are the problem; they are part of the conspiracy to destroy the nation and their right to a haircut. I am brought to my knees; I am terrified, sickened and heartbroken by the horrifying examples of heartlessness demonstrated in the halls of power and the streets of our cities.

Woe is all I can feel some days Hell most days. Where once we had giants now, we have simple boors, villains who were lucky enough to align themselves with the party du jour and take advantage of a corrupt system. We are in a feedback loop of massive proportions, one where we are the energy that feeds the terrible and keeps it cycling. We, the people, we have created the monster by turning our heads, tying on our blinders and not standing up to the corruption so blatantly before us. Now we are paying the price for our disinterest with a POTUS of massive ignorance, massive ego surrounded by obsequious toadies willing to say and do anything, including let us die to feed themselves and their need for ‘more‘.

Wonder, yes I always have those moments in a day where my heart stutters and I smile. Sometimes it is a young child singing. Thank you to everything Holy, young children 20200315_114015have not been corrupted by the world yet. Sometimes it is looking out my kitchen window and seeing my Lavender is still in bloom. Then there are those unique moments when I realize this will end and we will be together again.

Wonder at the resiliency of our human nature. We have been brought so low a pandemic is sweeping through this nation, through the world. A virus we have no control over is killing our loved ones and we are not able to offer comfort or even gain the comfort of true mourning. We have been overwhelmed; emotionally, financially and systemically. We are teetering on the edge of the abyss, yet there is hope in the everyday small things.

Wonder at the ability for humans to find thankfulness and grace even in the worst of days. I have read articles and watched mini-documentaries from the front lines. Each time I am struck by the compassion of those who must face the dying every single day, without aid or solutions. Every day I look for stories of kindness and I find them. The small restaurant that feeds those in need, despite being in need themselves. The coffee shop that gives away coffee and pastries to healthcare workers and first responders, despite operating in the red. The small clothing manufacturer that converted his operations at his own cost into making masks and scrubs, selling to hospitals at cost just so he can keep making them. I am uplifted every single day by these stories; by these proofs there continues to be good people in this world and most especially in this nation.

Wonder and woe follow me every day, piercing my heart. I often wonder what we will be when we finally conquer this virus and truly return to an open nation, not what we once were simply open. Will we be different in our spirit? Will we look at our behavior both before and during and shun the ugliness that brought us to that point that allowed our nation to be brought so low? Will we question our standards, morals and ethics as a screen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-34-05-pmpeople? Will we demand better of ourselves and those who seek high office?

Me? I believe we must start now to consider what it is we want to be and how we want the world to view us as a nation. We will be starting over; we have been brought low and our recovery will not be the work of one man or woman but of all of us. It truly is the right time to demand sweeping change, not the type of change Bernie Sanders and his acolytes were proposing. Certainly not the type of change Donald Trump proposed. But real change to who is in government, how they govern and for how long they govern. The grassroots of this nation must step up, must see beyond all our differences and begin to build true alliances if we want real change in this nation. We must stop he said / she said and start the what do we want, together. The only way anything will ever change for the better for all of us is if we agree to look toward a better future and agree on what that looks like, we cannot fix historical injuries only agree they occurred and are the root of many of the evils this nation has perpetuated.

Wonder? Yes, I stand in awe and wonder at the towering strength of our shared humanity. I have a great belief in us, all of us that we can fix what is broken in this nation. I know it will be hard; truthfully, it will be the hardest thing we have ever undertaken. But I believe there are enough of us who truly want this nation to succeed that it is possible for us to overcome all the differences and make it happen.

Stupid Quotient

There is a core of stupidity running through our nation and I am certain it is growing by leaps and bounds every year. I have evidence of this rampant growth, it all around us; it is everywhere.

First, let me explain my philosophical stance on the matter of human stupidity;

Ignorance is a choice, but stupidity is something else entirely, it is akin to a birth defect; passed along through both nature and nurture. One can choose to change their ‘stupid’ quotient (aka StQ); most, however, never do. It is my opinion this is due to our powerlessness to self-assess and identify stupidity as a component of one’s personality or make-up. Thus, we are left with a growing StQ within our population or a lowering of our herd intelligence at both the Intellect (IQ) and Emotional Intellect (EQ).

Are you wondering now, what the hell is she talking about, where is she going with this?

Situation: Starts with the reminder we are in a global pandemic, the world is facing a virus with no known treatment, no respect for age, race or income bracket and zero indication we are currently on the downward side of the curve yet. I live in a state where we are still on Stay-at-home executive orders (though our Governor is planning to allow this to expire soon). This past week I had to venture out, no choice I was out of essential items. So, me being an adult grabbed my gloves and mask and off to the local Wal-Mart I went, it has always been an adventure but now it is terrifying.

Let me start by saying, I get it; really, I do. You are bored and tired of being locked down with your family. This though is no reason for you to consider a shopping trip as a family mini-vacation. You are not helping yourself, your family or your community by carrying your parade of curtain climbers and germ hounds with you grocery shopping.  So, Grandma (age maybe 48), Grandad (age maybe 50), Mom (age maybe 33), two Semen Demons (age maybe 15 and 17), two Germ Hounds (age maybe 10 and 12), two Curtain Climbers (age somewhere 4 and  6), Linoleum Worm (age maybe 2) and Linoleum Worm (age maybe 9 months). Yes, you read this right eight (8) children and three parental figures (3) in this single group. If I had to guess as to who belonged to whom, the older Semen Demon’s belong to the older adults and the younger ones belong to the Mom, who also belongs to the Grandparents. So that is in total eleven (11) people, out and about in the community only three (3) of them wearing masks, none of them wearing gloves.   Except for the two (2) babies, all of them casually strolling through the store, touching everything, loud talking and generally causing a disruption.

As I said, I get it. I am stir crazy myself. I want out of the house too. I would love to sit outside in the new spring air and have a coffee and pastry, people watch or read a book. Instead, I sit on my back porch alone and wonder when it will all end. I haven’t seen my sons, my grandchildren or any of my friends since March 8, seven weeks apart in my house with the company of a kitten and a cockatoo. But the family Twatwaffle thinks they should put me and everyone else at risk because they are bored and stupid.

Do I sound annoyed? I am. The adults in the room are all wondering when the rest of you will take this seriously. The world is in the midst of change; it doesn’t feel as if it is for the better, meanwhile stupid and selfish seem to be joined at the hip in a tango to Hell. Strangely, this tango of boredom can be seen played out across the land, via shopping protestersadventures, protests on the courthouse steps and blocking of emergency rooms. It doesn’t matter your choice of stupid; it is all the same in the end. Your choice of stupid puts everyone else at risk. Your choice of stupid creates a problem for everyone you meet.

The potential infection rate is one person with Coronavirus gives the virus to 14 people who will, in turn, spread it to 5 people each, so this means within a 10-day time span one person could spread the virus to 1,953,125 (edit comment: the previous model was based on different criteria 14 people and 10 hours).

Getting back to my premise of the Stupid Quotient. Each time I see it, I wonder what has happened to our nation, our people. We were not always like this; we did not always have such a large population of the overtly mean, blatantly entitled and overly stupid within our community. It isn’t that we didn’t always have some, of course, we did. But now it seems we have a larger population than ever before. Is it that we give them a more significant voice? Is it that they are more evident than previously? Is it that under these extreme circumstances, they stand out more than they might have before?

I don’t know the answers to the above questions. I think some of the answers lie in the changes our society has seen in the last twenty-five years. These changes have upset the security of many both economically and on an emotional level, even where they might not admit it. The rise of populism, racism, Nazism and other extremist views gives us a glimpse into the fears and potentially the growth of the Stupid Quotient. Combine this with the real dumbing down of our education system, especially when it comes to teaching Civics and History in our public schools, I believe we can answer part of the question.

I hope, though, with this latest reset, those who have the capacity to combine their Emotional Intelligence with their Intellect, will use it for good. Won’t be afraid to speak up and push real change into our communities. Perhaps, when we finally swing those doors open and realize how good it feels to be together, we will work hard to stay sane, safe and function as a society. This at least is my hope.

Saw You

5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:5-6

Easter has passed and it was different for most of us, whether we have children or are part of an extended family. There were no Easter Egg Hunts, no dressing up in our eastereggsSunday Go To Meeting finest, no Family Dinner; none of that was on the menu for those of us following the rules. In fact, most of America was locked up tight with whomever they are isolated in place. Some were fortunate, isolated at home with those they loved, healthy and with plenty. Others were not so lucky as these, a host of things come to mind as to the circumstances that might be in play.

  • They are members of the healthcare community
  • They are members of the retail services community
  • They are aged and their families left them where they were
  • They are isolated alone, by choice or not

Then some chose to flaunt the rules intended to keep us all safe. Those who loudly proclaim God will protect them and their flock from the virus. My question to them, ‘who

will protect the rest of us from you?’ I frankly watched in horror as some Pastors flung open their doors and led their parishioners into the church to celebrate Easter, shoulder to shoulder, hugs and hand-holding all around. Adults, young and old, children running through the sanctuary as if it is a day of play rather than a day of plague. Of course, children will be children and they don’t know what their parents have led them into.

I am stunned by the level of idiocy and greed it must require on the parts of those who would encourage this behavior and those who would mindlessly place themselves and tonyspell3their families at risk. The Pastors who did this were not leading their flocks in good faith; in truth, some said they were making political statements, were willing to fight to the end for their First Amendment Rights of Religion, Free Speech and to Peaceably Assemble. Pastor Tony Spell said;

“True Christians do not mind dying, they fear living in fear. People that can prefer tyranny over freedom do not deserve freedom”.

Other Far-Right Evangelical Preachers have had dreams and spoken prophecies of the Devil and his minions trying to usurp the chosen one from his place at the top of the GOP and this nation.  Using the Hoax of the global pandemic, the Devil is working his will to turn the world against the Chosen One and his mission. They march to a different drummer, that is all I can say. On the one hand, they sell miracle cures and prayers; on the other, they sell a constant stream of demonic intrigue, deep state conspiracy theory and fear-mongering piped into the homes of millions of devoted followers, daily.

There is a constant hum of discontent across the nation now. Perhaps it is the 5g towers, intended to boost our communications, now the source of conspiracy theory and more idiocy. This discontent can be viewed in glorious ignorance across the web from people ED-AZ052_Strass_M_20191011125911from all walks of life. My assumption, they have nothing to occupy their minds. Then some simply cannot be still. Those who can’t wrap their minds into acceptance of a global pandemic of this magnitude. Those people who insist this is instead a grand conspiracy to damage the re-election of the grand poo-bah currently delivering a daily banquet of self-aggrandization and lies to the world.

Finally, perhaps the saddest of all are those who are incapable of understanding or complying with the rules, those we all see each time we must go out for essential items. Those who not only place us all at risk but place themselves and their families at risk.

Have you guessed yet? Yes, it is those who see a trip to the store as a family outing, mom, dad and all the off-spring out for a day at Walmart as if it were Wally World. Worse, mom and dad with masks and gloves while the children have not a lick of protection; baby chewing on the cart to calm their teething gums and two others running through the aisles touching everything in sight. Meanwhile, the teenager is texting and loudly smacking gum while disrespectfully glaring at you when you ask it to move so you can reach what you need off the shelf. I get it; everyone is stir crazy. So am I. But you just brought yourself and your brood to the second most dangerous places to be right now, second only to the emergency room of any hospital.

We are all afraid, I know. Many of us are lonely, staring down financial ruin and future loss while we sit in our homes alone and terrified. Many have learned hard lessons during this isolation, who their friends are, who can be counted on and who was only there for the good times but quickly turned tail when the going wasn’t quite so easy. Yes, opendoorthis is a scary time for all of us. Nevertheless, we will get through it, this isn’t forever and it isn’t the end of times either.

Eventually, if we all work towards the common goal of flattening the curve, we will open our society again. Ultimately, we will fling our doors open again who and what stands on the other side will be up to us, individually and together.

Introvert Paradise

I shouldn’t tell you this, you might get the wrong idea and suddenly rush out to hug all the introverts you know, just don’t do that. We are a prickly bunch at the best of the time. grouphugBut I will tell you a well-kept secret; even Introverts need human contact. Yes, there I said it, now don’t go running out and telling everyone you know to bother their introverted friends and family randomly.

Most introverts, unless they are at the far end of the spectrum, have learned to live in a society that expects their involvement. Some of us have even worked in careers where our participation is required and rewarded. Some of us have learned to engage; we have become Omniverts to survive a world that does not prize our nature and would ultimately savage us. From experience, I can tell you some of use learned so well we fooled even those closest to us into believing we were something we were not.

So now to this forced isolation, this pandemic of global proportions. Fear and loathing of strangers and friends thrust us into our homes and our small private worlds. They said, shelter in place, stay where we are, do not venture outside except for essentials. Initially, this was an Introvert’s Paradise! No more crowded spaces, no more strangers talking to us in lines, no more requests from friends for group hugs out to restaurants and bars; Paradise! No more excuses for why it was impossible. No more making nice with strangers. No more sitting in silence and sometimes tears pulling all the pieces of me back in place after to big of a crowd pulled me apart.

Have you guessed I am talking about myself?

LVal_2010Of course, I am. Don’t misunderstand me; I love my friends and my family. I love seeing them in small doses. The problem is I don’t make friends easily; I don’t trust easily; thus, I have a very small circle I call a friend. Most of my friends do not live anywhere near me, maybe this intentional I have never really considered this possibility. I think I am the only truly single one among us, the only one that lives entirely alone. Yes, this is my choice. I suppose if I made different choices in romantic partners along the way, I could by now have someone in my home, in my bed and my life; I did not do that. So I sit this morning four weeks into self-isolation and wonder if this is Paradise.

I am most fortunate. I am still working; nothing is changed for now as I have worked remotely for two years. During the workday, I must put on my virtual work clothes and take meetings, direct activities and perform tasks. This creates normalcy in the day though I have noticed for those who are not use to being remote; they call more and schedule more meetings just to have someone to talk too, I think. For me though, this is not human interaction; instead, it is just my work life and does not fill holes in my spirit.

Yes, the quiet is soothing.  I understand everyone is dealing with isolation differently. I read troubling accounts of domestic violence rising across the nation, against partners womaninjarand children as people are thrown together with their families and cannot find a peaceful coexistence. Yet I think to myself when I was young, we did it on family vacations locked in cars for days or in my case on 27 ft boats. Was it always peaceful? No, hell, we sometimes fought like mortal enemies, but we didn’t kill each other. It was on these holidays I learned to escape into my mind for peace.

So what is wrong with me? What is it I am missing in my Introvert’s Paradise?

I am missing contact, human interaction with people I love and trust. I am missing presence filling space. I am missing feeling and knowing I matter to someone else in the world, that I am of value and my existence matters. I am missing laughter, touch, conversation and the simple acts of kindness and generosity we each do without thinking when we engage in relationships with each other. I am missing humanity at its best which is what friendships are, even when we don’t recognize them or realize we do them or receive them. Our relationships are fragile, and yet we hold them tightly; this is true whether they are friends or lovers. Introverts always struggle with boundaries, how to create them without pushing those we care for too far away. I am guilty of building walls too high and too impenetrable, I know it but don’t know how to stop.

Paradise has a dark side. For those of us who greeted this terrible time as the chance to wrap ourselves in silence and aloneness, maybe we are learning some good things come with a price. I know this will not change my nature, but it will perhaps help me open up more with my friends. As I look down the road to another month, maybe two months of isolation I wonder if my spirit will survive just how alone I am.

There is a Portuguese expression that so spoke to my spirit I tattoed it under my heart:

Saudade

Presence of Absence

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