Monday, March 14, 2011

Life As I Know It

I'm one of those people that always thinks the best of others.  I trust. I hope. I believe. This isn't always good.

But, in spite of my inclination to be positive, there are days when it's not as easy as it should be. I've had a few of those recently, and splattered throughout my life; dotted between the highs of children and grandchildren - births, weddings, graduations, missions, performances, or even those rare family vacations or amazing road trips, or when immersed in a good book or soul-touching music or conversations with good friends.

If it wasn't for the highs of faith, friends and family, those dark splotches of disappointment would have blotted my life to a dull shade of gray. And yet, it's so easy to take them for granted. The highs are often underestimated and undercelebrated.

How grateful I am for simple faith, family time, leisurely strolls and honest talk. We spend our lives racing around on the fast track , walking and talking at a rapid pace, and making time for family and faith only when it's convenient.

But then, there comes a moment of clarity as we mature. It's painful. It's hard to accept. But it's real, and it me. And in the moment we realize, with a remorse beyond description, that somewhere along the line our focus shifted, our life spun out of control, the darkness took over and we missed the point. We let our life race by, or run over us, or drag us along. We didn't live our life, it lived us. We suddenly realize how much time we wasted.

I've done this. I am guilty. And I am sorry. Sorrier than anyone could ever know, except someone who has experienced this sudden awakening, this reality that there isn't a second chance.

Early in life, you have the opportunity to marry the right person, you have one chance to raise your children, and you have one shot to start early and build a life of  financial responsibility. Once that "one" time has past, all is not lost, but you can never go back and redo what was done, or not done.

I don't think kids realize this. I know I didn't. It was something that I just didn't think about. If anyone had asked, I would have told them that at 56 I would be happily putting my last kid through college, looking for a place to retire, and enjoying time with my grandkids. But life didn't turn out that way, and part of the fault is mine - maybe all of it - because I didn't have a real plan. I could have answered the question, but I didn't have a plan.

I do now. It's too late to go back and redo. It's too late to be less trusting and more cautious. It's too late to enjoy curling my fingers through Kurt's blond curls again, or snuggle in bed with Kollin, or make it to Kelly's parade, or spend more time reading with Kyle, or be home more for Karynn, or listen more carefully to Kalen. It's too late.

It's too late to look at the kid's Dad and say "This isn't about us, it's about the kids. We're a family, let's do this."

It's too late to not rush into a rebound marriage. It's too late. It's done. But as I told my daughter, I can only hope that my kids have learned how NOT to do things because of my mistakes, as much as they may have learned how TO act when I've made correct decisions. It's the only silver lining in this mess of a once-only life that I know. I pray that they learn from my mistakes.

But I refuse to let remorse or sorrow darken the days I have left on earth. I refuse to let disappointment in people whom I trusted send me spiraling into depression or despair. And I refuse to waste even another minute of my life on someone else's dishonesty or immorality or disloyalty.

I still believe in people. I still wake up positive and ready for a new day. I still refuse to let the dark splotches of disappointment and negativity and betrayal and failure - in others and in myself - define who I am.

Because I am happy, I am excited, and I am about to begin the next chapter in my life! And this is the life that I know and love. My life. And I claim it, I own it, I take responsibility for it - the good and the bad. And I have a plan this time, so watch out. I'm going to take charge, but I am going to hold others accountable too.

We all have a moral responsibility to be cognizant of how our lives weave into the lives of others, and to be careful, and respectful, and responsible when dealing with friends, family, coworkers, partners, colleagues, those we pass on the street, employees and employers. And those who don't realize this and live by it, will not succeed. Those who do, are not promised a smooth ride, but at least they can bounce over the bumps with head held high.

It's a new day. And my chin's up.  Bring it on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Speech is Powerful.

My last blog entry was made when I first became aware of the self-righteous and insensitive Westboro fanatics (I was a little late to the so-called party). Maybe my head-shaking astonishment when facing the reality of this group's hateful actions is what silenced me - I don't know.

And to refresh your memory, the Westboro "church" speaks out, especially at the funeral services for fallen soldiers, to publicize their belief that God hates the United States because of its tolerance of homosexuality. Their sense of heavenly entitlement is stunning.

This week the Supreme Court delivered their absolutely correct decision regarding the Right to Free Speech in our country. However, it doesn't change the fact that although we can litigate rights, we can't litigate kindness, sensitivity, tolerance, respect and common sense and decency.

In the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr:
“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

If a narcissistic person or group  chooses to "speak" from a self-serving, self-righteous and self-appointed place, they have the right to do so, even when it offends or further breaks the hearts of grieving parents who are burying their courageous son  - a Marine, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder -who was killed in Iraq, or causes added anguish to already tormented friends and family attending the funeral.

As confusing as this might seem on the surface, the 7-1 decision by the Supreme Court is rock solid at its core. Our freedom of speech  allows discussion, debate, the sharing of ideas. And ideas change the world. We can only hope that an idea will change the hearts of the Westboro "church" members and their leader.

Tough times call for tough decisions. But in spite of what seems obvious, this wasn't one of those tough decisions. I am sorry for those who weren't allowed to grieve or bury their dead in peace. But they should find solace in the integrity of their actions and the courage of the son they buried. I am sorry for those who feel entitled through self-dictated, erroneous actions taken in the name of a God who would never stoop to such levels.

This is not about a Supreme Court judgment, it's about unrighteous judgment.

The real lesson isn't about free speech. The lesson is about love. And love is an action.

The actions of the Westboro Baptist "church" have nothing to do with love.

Yet another thing that can't be litigated.