Early Evening Thoughts ~ The One Last Ride ~

I’ve written about my suicide several times over the last few years, but one aspect that I didn’t cover was one that I really preferred to keep somewhat unknown.  It wasn’t an attempt to keep it secret (if you’ve followed this blog, you know me better than that…) as much as a problem in knowing how to handle this.  When all was said and done, the Dr. felt that I had possibly had 2-3 concussions one right after another … as a result, for several months afterward, I had a lot of difficulty with sentences, names and remembering certain things.  It was, in all honesty, one of the most terrifying times of my life.  I was afraid that I had possibly done severe brain damage (cutting off one’s oxygen supply and hacking one’s neck with an eXacto knife will have a tendency to do that sort of thing…)

At the least, I was afraid that I might have triggered Alzheimer’s and all that would entail.  Fortunately, none of that happened.  Gradually, words, memories and such returned and I seem to hold no further problems from it.

I was and am blessed with wonderful children, and friends who simply said to me – if it happens it happens and we’ll deal with it then.  In other words sir … quit borrowing trouble from the future, you’ve got enough to deal with right now …. and how right they were.

This story, which I understand like yesterday’s has been making the rounds for sometime now, made me cry.  Not only for her, but for the blessings that I have of people around me who know me and mercifully still love me! What would it be like without anyone? I really don’t care if and haven’t looked up to see if the story is true.  The story still makes me cry every time I read it …. [update: the story is true … I just looked it up]

A NYC Taxi driver writes:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next few hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired.Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut.It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Dark Matter In Space And Life(2) ~ Late Night Thoughts

There was a slight (?!) pause between the last post and this one (OK ~ I regard 24 hours as slight…in posting time anyway.) However, I had a delay in getting an answer to what was wearing me out.

However, here is where I’m standing at the moment. Exactly how can someone be told what the bitter anger, resentments and “persecution” is doing to them and to those around. How can you show someone – who can not see the examples around them – that things can and should be different.

As I was searching for answers, I stumbled over the answer right in front of me. There is no use “telling” someone what their anger/bitterness/resentments are doing to themselves and/or others. Doing this could result in an enormous argument with denial and even more anger. Instead of helping, it creates more barriers to any change or epiphany to create a sense of what needs to be done.

I would love to say that this is the “WD method of handling people” and market it. However, it really is a combination of a number of ideas that I’ve heard/read/ripped off/been told over the years. In this problem, it involves two parts: 1) the I part and what I will call 2) the directed question part.

Often, when someone has a problem with another person, they tell them so by using a “you-statement,” for example, “you didn’t …..!” While the statement may be true, by phrasing it that way, the listener is likely to get defensive, and begin to argue. They might reply, “I couldn’t because the deadline was unreasonable!” or “You are always pestering me…..!”

Another approach to the same problem is using an “I-message:”

When you interrupted me speaking
I felt angry because
I was feeling unimportant.

While this disguises a “you” statement, it allows the thoughts/feelings of the person to be expressed in a fairly non-threatening manner. Hopefully, it will cause the other person to think and not simply react. However, there has been some rethinking about these statements. (But wait ~ there’s more!) The point of the statement is to get the other person to see the problem from a different non-threatening point of view. However – there is a tendency for these statements to come across as stilted, childish and somewhat patronizing ~for adults anyway.

Situation 1: Mark is yelling at James because James changed the channel on the television from MTV to VH1. Mark is calling James names and telling him to turn it back or else Mark will pound him.

Traditional “I” message:
James says to Mark: “I feel angry when you call me names and yell at me and I want you to stop it.”

The above statement would warm the heart of almost any trainer/consultant over the last few years. What I think it would NOT do is change anything in the situation.

New “I” message:

James says to Mark: “Hey, Mark. Cool out, man. I’m starting to get angry. I don’t like it when people call me names and threaten me. I didn’t know that changing the channel was such a big deal. Can we work this out like friends?” (no doubt a sanitized version of the actual conversation)

(And as a bonus ~)

I thought these kind of statements were easy ~ I was given this example from the Ohio Commission of Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management. I would be interested in answers. Aside from the fact this brought up a huge set of memories (not so pleasant) that, frankly, surprised me.

Jerome is walking to his locker when an older student bumps into him and then begins yelling at Jerome about being stupid and clumsy.

Jerome say to the older student:
(ten bonus points if the end of the statement does NOT involve Jerome hitting the other student or both of them getting expelled/suspended.)

Now, the second part that could be used is (as I said) what I’m calling the “directed” question. These questions are somewhat probing and yet, non-threatening. These are more difficult to phrase. This is actually what I’ve begun to use with the problem I’m facing. I want SE to see for them self what their behavior is doing to them self and those around.

These type of questions take thought and some planning.

—more on this tomorrow (within 24 hours I promise!)

When You Least Expect It (2) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Continuing on from last night’s post ~

Surprised With Joy –
(apologies or thank you to C. S. Lewis)-continued-

Last night I wrote about how I asked Toby after several meetings if we were dating. As I said, I was horrified as soon as the question came out of me. I didn’t need to worry. He looked at me and without hesitation said: “We keep making arrangements to meet and neither of us cancel or skip them, so yes – I’d say we are dating.” Of course, the fact that he winked at me and slightly stuck out his tongue – only underscored the seriousness of the conversation.

But The Luggage Tag Says (5)

On the 27th I wrote about ~ “Fantasy travel: A very weak color, which leads away from the bright color of reality.”

I’ve written before about my non-relationship relationship with ZZ. This is probably the most personal of the false expectations trap. Not only did I have false expectations,. . . ” but I was convinced that I could turn everything into reality – by sheer force of will if necessary.

I was so sure that everything was going to turn out as I expected and desired, I literally decorated my luggage of life with various tags – the one of fantasy travel being quite prominent. And for an incredible number of years, I clung tightly to that tag – believing that ZZ would change, that our entire lives would change. And it never happened. But, of course, I had invested to much into the false itinerary, I became overwhelmed by the idea of making it a reality and making the journey fit what I felt it should be. And long the journey, I lost myself. I fell into several major traps because my expectations were not grounded for flight school as they should have been.

In the book “The Wizard of Oz” – the citizens wore glasses that created the delightful colors of the city. The emerald color was a fantasy. Without the glasses that everyone entering the city was required to wear it was a dull gray almost lifeless set of buildings.

Which is in a sense looking at the world through rose-colored-glasses.

Some unfortunate people never take their rose-colored glasses off, but everyone wears these spectacles occasionally. This attitude of cheerful optimism, of seeing everything in an attractive, pleasant light, has always been with us, while the expression itself goes back to at least 1861, when it is first recorded in ‘Tom Brown at Oxford’: ‘Oxford was a sort of Utopia to the Captain.He continued to behold towers, and quadrangles, and chapels, through rose-colored glasses.
–From the “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins”
by Robert Hendrickson
(Facts on File, New York, 1997)

Some of those around me have expressed concern about Toby which is more an expression of concern about me. And I can accept that. After all, I’ve written about things in the luggage cars behind me where I’ve been wearing colored glasses or decided that what wasn’t going to be – would be. And believe me, there are other stories that I will share as time goes on. However:

Little Did I Know –

That there would such interesting differences this time around. I seem to have misplaced most of the emerald/rose colored glasses. Perhaps I’ve misplaced them somewhere around – but it’s giving me quite a different outlook on what’s going on around me. Toby seems to have some faults. (as if I don’t?) And there are a couple of them that are quite serious. One of the most major faults he is overcoming, and as long as he’s willing to work on it – I am going to be able to help. I can not change anyone, but I can help support someone in the process of changing. And how do I know he wants to make that change?

Shortly after the dating discussion, he said that he wanted to “mark” me as being part of his life. I will admit that the first image that flashed through my mind was from the movie from several years ago where someone lived near wolves and just as they did – he “marked” his territory. (So never going to happen!) Thankfully, Toby doesn’t take long pauses when he talks, so the image didn’t have long to stay around. He handed me something to wear. Something simple – but with meaning to him. I thought for a bit, and agreed. It was not a couple of days later that he had a serious setback with something he was overcoming.

Several things (once I seriously thought about it) impressed me. The first thing that impressed me was the honesty to tell me. The second one – he wanted to meet to talk about what had happened. There was no attempt to cover-up, and he wanted a discussion to openly share. I agreed, but was not wearing what he’d given me. I explained to him, that wearing it was a commitment to where we were in the dating situation and the commitment had to go both ways. After two very serious talks, I started wearing it again. And he put together support options.

I seem to have misplaced my “fixer” mentality. I didn’t immediately try and make everything right, proper and lose any “oil” in the process. I also made a decision that I was going to “wait and see” how this played out before either getting back into what was going on or dropping the entire package with little or no chance of redelivery.

I’m basically relaxed in what’s going on with “us.” (I have a little trouble typing that word right now – but that no doubt will change.) I’m not looking at picket fences nor am I waiting for the “other-shoe-to-drop.” Things are very much in the “now” and not “what could/would be.” Which for this traveler could be considered quite a feat. (I think a few of the baggage cars have been removed from my train.)

I seem to have lost my expectation “maps” of territories that haven’t been explored yet. Certainly I’m not stating that I’ve turned off my mind and am simply floating down the river of whatever is happening. However, I’m much more willing to allow things to happen in their own natural rhythm instead of becoming a Koyto Drummer and demanding my expectations to be met on my timetable.

And little did I know, I agree even more with the quote Nodrin King (from A Flat With A View) shared with me:

Happiness is not something that someone else, like a lover, can give to us. We have to achieve it for ourselves. And the only way to do so is by developing our character and capacity as human beings; by fully maximizing our potential … What is important now is to work hard at developing yourselves into truly wonderful human beings. Ultimately, the relationships you form are a reflection of your own state of life.

And lastly – the poem I posted the other night, will perhaps make even more sense now …

I will stand where I have not stood before.
I will live in a way I have not lived before.

The way may not be always clear,
direct or
completely visible –

However –
I will stand where I have not stood before.
I will live in a way I have not lived before.

It will always amaze me how things happen when I least expect them.

–dating carrots by Martha Mickles
http://www.usm.maine.edu/art/alumni/alumnishow/pages/Martha Mickels, Dating.htm

Early Morning Thoughts ~ "But They Made Me Do It ~

Today, I read a news article that really stunned me.

A major U.S. AIDS treatment group plans to file a lawsuit on Monday that accuses drug giant Pfizer Inc. of illegally promoting recreational use of its blockbuster impotence pill Viagra.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) told Reuters it wants Pfizer to be barred from marketing Viagra as a lifestyle or sexual enhancement drug. The nonprofit organization said Pfizer’s actions had led to risky behavior by men and an increase in HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. (And they did not say gay or straight – just behavior by men)

“Pfizer has created and contributed to the perception of Viagra as a safe, sexy, lifestyle, recreational drug, to be frequently used regardless of the degree, or even existence of” erectile dysfunction, the group said in draft legal documents.

Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, said it was committed to appropriate Viagra use and urged men to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. The drug is sold by prescription. (Of course, both straight and gay “party spots”of any kind, have various people that can make it available without a prescription.)

While I personally feel that ED has become the latest “fashion illness.” For a gay organization to blame the drug or its ads as causing unsafe behavior is a twist of logic that bothers me.

It’s not the fact that it’s available readily that troubles me, it’s the unwillingness for people straight or gay to accept responsibility for their actions that is the most troubling. In the sexually charged atmosphere of a circuit party or a night out at the bar or private party, it can be difficult to avoid the enticement of all that is available. It is still a matter of personal choice as to whether or not to participate – and willing participation should result in a willingness to accept the consequences of the actions.

As a person I really respect once said: If you’ve lit the fuse to the bomb, you can’t pray for someone to come along and blow it out…you either have to blow it out yourself, or decide not to light it in the first place.

But it seems that more and more, people want to avoid the responsibility for their actions/decisions and to try and find someone to blame. Someone to become the scapegoat. It would be easy for me to take this to the political arena, but that’s for another time I think. (Perhaps in a galaxy far, far away!) When I refuse to acknowledge that my actions have reactions, then I need to find someone to blame.

The Internet is littered with many stories about people who refused to accept the choices that they made, and seemed to get away with it. The burglar who fell through a skylight and wanted to sue because there was no warning label that warned him that falling through the skylight could be dangerous. The tourist that sued a travel agent because they weren’t warned that a coconut falling on their head could cause pain.

While laughable in some cases it points up a serious and growing problem. It’s an inability to acknowledge that what I do can/does have an effect, and that effect can be serious.

When my Father had a seizure and the resultant exams showed brain cancer – it was also discovered that he was addicted to pain killers, and had been for some time. I was impressed with my Mother’s reaction. She didn’t go after the doctor’s who wrote the prescriptions nor the several pharmacies that filled them. She went directly to the heart of the problem – my Father. Of course, by that time it was apparent that taking him off the addiction would be worse than treating the cancer. But at least there was control of the situation, and an acknowledgment from Dad that he had made some poor choices.

And that’s where the mountain seems to be…poor choices. And as far as sex is concerned, we know the correct choices. As far as some moments in our lives we know the correct choices. I know that hot coffee if it spills will hurt, that putting my hand through glass will cut…and the list could go on and on. But what about the subtle choices…the one’s that don’t seem that obvious.

the 2nd part of this tomorrow

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Poison to Medicine (finale)

The spiritual journey does not consist in arriving at a new destination
where a person gains what he did not have
or becomes what he is not.
It consists in the dissipation of one’s own ignorance concerning one’s self and life
and the gradual growth of that understanding which begins the spiritual awakening.
The finding of God is a coming to one’s self.
– Aldous Huxley

When I started the several threads leading to this one, I knew that I had no choice but to be honest, open and forth-coming. For some, perhaps, that honesty was a little TMI (too much information). Others might have felt they intruded on something that should have remained private. But in order to get here I had to go there. It was important to show what I’d learned in order to share with some kind of reality and truth.

That same dayn(several years ago) I called my boss and asked him to come see me at the apartment. When he arrived I told him basically everything that had happened and what had been going on. I fully expected to be fired. He thought for a moment, and then made a comment that has stayed with me. “To me, this as if you told me you had cancer – or some other disease. We need to work with you until you are back to who you are.”

There was one of the major keys: I had to get hold of the Aldous Huxley quote that I’ve been posting over and over .. I wasn’t going to have to gain what I didn’t already have or become something I wasn’t already. I had within me what I needed – as do you. What I needed to do was find it. It wasn’t a case of “cleaning-up” and becoming something or someone else, it was a case of getting back to who I was – becoming who I was. I didn’t have lose myself in the process – I was going to find myself.

In simple terms, I had been trying to change myself. I had become a chameleon – changing to match the background, foreground – or any ground that anyone wanted me to be. This, of course, was particularly true with ZZ as I wanted something that actually wasn’t there and would never be there. (I know, never say never – but in this case …) I used to tell people that were having problems at work that in effect, the company has “rented” your behavior for the time you are there. Perhaps you’re a great opera singer with an excellent voice. The company you are working for is a library and you are the librarian. While you are at work, belting out major arias would not only be disruptive, but would probably get you fired. So, you adopt the librarian behavior at work. That does not mean you have changed – or become what you are not. You are being paid for that behavior. Where I went wrong, was I had changed my entire focus into changing what I was – rather than adapting to the situation as it really was, seeing it for what it was.

Now perhaps you think I’m advocating dishonesty. Not in the least. What I am
advocating is honesty in relationship, with self and with those around. Was there honesty in the relationship with ZZ? Basically no, it was based on an untruth on both sides. And I fell into the trap of trying to make something work that dishonesty had doomed from the beginning. And in the process had tried to doom me as well.

The hope that is within each of us needs to be based on who we ARE not what people think we need to be. And as I became more content with who I am, people saw me and can see the me I want them to see. Of course, as in the librarian example, there are times of adaptation. But it’s an adaptation, not an attempt at a life style or fantasy.

So, the poison became the medicine and I’m on my life journey to where I want to be … where I need to be.

Remember you’ve got a choice.
When you feel you can’t handle something,
you can either choose to feel miserable and helpless,
or maybe put your life in someone else’s hands to sort out – if they can be bothered.
Or you can decide to take charge ,
take full responsibility for whatever is happening,
even if none of it seems to be your fault,
and decide to turn poison into medicine.
– Geoff from the book, “The Buddha, Geoff and Me

Honesty plant painting by Roger Beckwaith ww.btintnernet.com