Monday, June 13, 2011


I have a crystal rock that my daughter, Beni, gave me several years ago.  I use it as my focal point for meditation every day.  I learnbed this technique from a friend in Florida who in turn was taught the technique by a Native American shaman.  I try to lose myself in the facets of this rock, and ultimately quiet all my brain chatter so I can have at least 15 minutes of inner quiet.  The rock, whose name is Rowolf, is in the photo that is to the left of this text.

Tonight, Rowolf and I had a rough time.  I was thinking first about my health, then about my daughter, Annie, who will be moving to Williamsburg, Virginia, this summer, and finally about a posting on FaceBook this morning from a young gay man in the mid–West who is having a hard time being gay in a very fundamentalist environment.

Finally, Rowolf did her magic, and I was quiet.  The peace that came to me was strange.  Gradually, I realized that everything my mind had been busy worrying about was essentially one thing: I was worried about things over which I have absolutely no ultimate control.  I can see my doctor and do what she tells me to do, but I’m still—sooner or later—going to get sick and die, regardless of how well I take care of myself.  Annie is 28 and she is going to move with her fiancé, get married, and have a life in which I will play a minor role.  She has been taking care of herself for a lot of years now, and she will make her decisions, and all I can do is love her and hope for the best for her.  The kid in the mid–West is the person about whom my worries are most useless.  I don’t even know him.  He may not be who he says he is (although I doubt that).  He is going to make his way through the coming–out process in his own way, in his own time, and with his own strength.  In the face of all the things about which I was worried, I am totally helpless.  The only thing I can do is wish Annie and the mid–West kid the best and make sure both know that I am on their side.  The only thing I can do in the face of my mortality is to accept it and to make the most of each day.  I can change nothing.  All I can do is accept.  This wasn’t a new realization, of course.  It just came to me in a strange way.

I remembered what a very liberal friend of mine—a Christian socialist, as a matter of fact—told me about American politics a few weeks ago.  Politics are not the reality, he said.  Politics are the game societies play.  The reality of a society isn’t how the government is structured or peopled.  The reality of a society is how its members—including its government—take care of one another.  While I should fight injustice and act for justice and generosity in this country, I shouldn’t let the game overwhelm me.  At the end of the day, each day, my friend suggested, I should look to see if I did anything at all to make somebody else’s life better.  I need to act to make one single minute contribution to someone’s life much more than I need to fight, or analyze, or otherwise play the game.

This advice was the answer my inner voice gave to me tonight when I was able to shut down my noisy mind and listen.  If I spend my day looking for an opportunity to make a single specific contribution for the better for someone else, then I will spend much less time worrying about problems over which I have no control.  My priorities are the opposite, I think.  I give myself over to worry about the fundamentalists, the republicans, the teabaggers, and the homophobes, and, if I do anything to make a positive change for someone else, it’s almost beside the point.  As a result, the things I try to do for other people tend to be less thought out, less valuable, less loving.  Let the republicans and the teabaggers and the homophobes do their damnest.  I certainly can’t do anything about them.  What I can do is give my mother two hours on the telephone, if that is what she wants, and really have a conversation with her rather than half–listen to what she’s saying.  What I can do is take the time, and take the risk, of listening to a young gay man’s repeated complaints because no one else will listen to him and no one else in his life can understand, even though I’ve heard it all from him 100 times before.  What I can do is take a real interest in the people, including my own daughters, who want to tell me what their life is, listening and being positive and offering no advice whatsoever.  If I do these things, my Rowolf voice told me, then I won’t have so much time to worry about things that I have no business worrying about anyway.

That’s where I am at 64 years of age.  I have to be told time and time again that all control is an illusion, that life is a gift not a certainty, and that I am made for others, not for myself.  People learn these things in high school psychology, if not sooner.  Not me!!!  I fight all the time to be in charge, even though I know I never have been in charge and never will be.  I am a leaf on a lake, going where the tide takes me.  Period.

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