Careless Words

“That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” Arundhati Roy, an Indian author.

I wish I had those words back? Those words I blurted out in anger. But they’re irretrievable.

By the grace of God, I keep pursuing patience. In the most trying moments. In ways that will strengthen the bonds of love.

I need a listening ear and a patient heart. Sometimes the trail gets bumpy. I am so, so thankful that our gracious Lord will not relent in helping me to blossom.

What Was I Thinking?

November 24, 1983. Our daughter was three, and our son would arrive 7.5 years later. I was working 65 miles south of our home in Woodland Hills, California.

I had never experienced that long a commute 24 hours before Thanksgiving dinner. SoCal is well known for the worst traffic in the United States. That is/was especially true on this, the most exasperating traffic day of the year a la Trains, Planes and Automobiles.

Arguably, that film is the funniest American movie ever made. Inarguably, that date encompassed the most irksome traffic jam I would ever experience.

Although, there was that attempt at crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge at 5 P.M. on a Friday in New York. Verrazzano was an explorer during the European discovery of the Americas. I was exploring my sanity on that commute in ’83.

Once home, my spouse, Kristine, was able to pry me out of our small coupe. I still have a scar from the lug wrench.

Critiques

It can be a jungle out there, particularly with the internet. I am nearly certain I have experienced people who take a well-critiqued book, don’t write a review, but simply give it a “1’ rating out of ‘5’ to diminish its overall rating.

It’s happened to me. Though, obviously the internet can get a lot worse with outright bullies of fragile adolescents and major, fraudulent schemes that dwarf those unpleasant raters.

Some writers respond to the worst of the critiques with thoughts like, anyone can criticize, but few can write well. One man a few years ago joined the writers and was quite successful.

That was George S. Kaufman, 20th-century, drama critic and comedy writer, who was wont to say, “I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions–the curtain was up.”

Not as funny for the playwright.

Needs

“We can escape from everything, but not from ourselves.” Jose Saramago, the late Nobel Prize-winning author.

Walk away. Sail away. Fly away. You still need to bring yourself.

Your baggage and frustrations. The best and the worst of it.

That’s why I need the Lord in my life and always will.

Thoughts For This Morning

“There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.” Neil Gaiman, a prolific English author.

Breathes there a human who has not had his or her heart broken? Isn’t that a requirement in crossing the delicate bridge from adolescence to adulthood? I think the hurt heightens the senses to more carefully follow the cues in adult relationships.

Our broken hearts help us to appreciate how precious it is when two people who are meant to spend their lives together find each other on this ever more fragile planet.Thank God I found her.

The Eyes Have It

“I like you; your eyes are full of language. “Anne Sexton, the late American poet. “People seldom realise that they tell lies with their lips and truths with their eyes all the time.“ Tahereh Mafi, an American author.

Oh, the great gift of eyesight. My mother had glaucoma and helped with braille workers as a volunteer. As an adult, ophthalmologists have monitored something visually unusual for me yearly.

Eye accidents happen. As a child, while opening a package, I jabbed a knife into the white of my eye, requiring daily medication as well as avoiding swimming much of that summer. I struck three the other night as an adult, getting a third traumatic liquid into my eyes, requiring optical flushing at an ER to dilute the “intruder” and antibiotic drops for a week.

Eye contact? I avoided eye contact as a child with a father who was difficult to face. It led to doing that generally.

I have learned to stop avoiding eye contact with others as an adult. Improved eye contact has made my life richer in the hands of a loving God. At 77, it’s about time.

The Blogging Experience

“A writer should always feel like he’s in over his head.” Michael Cunningham, an American writer.

On days that I just stare at the screen, I feel that way. The opposite is at work when things seem to flow.

I have times where I am dissatisfied with what I have blogged. Then, I get a positive response, and later in the day appreciate it’s likely better than I had gathered on, say, an eighth re-read.

It’s a mysterious thing we do, this blogging. Most of the time, it’s either peaceful and serene or giggly. Sometimes it’s even filled with the best we can muster, thank God.

Character Counts

“I’ve just learned over a period of time that, hey, you just live your life, try to do the right things, seize the moment, and enjoy as much as you can,” he said. “Enjoy this ride…” Dusty Baker, a lifer in Major League Baseball, now manager of the Houston Astros, playing today for the World Series Championship. 

Dusty also said, and I thought I’d find a comment like this: “People always see the successes, but they don’t see the failures in your life. They don’t see the times when you’re going broke, losing money, getting divorced, and thought you hit rock bottom. The Lord gives you the sense of purpose that you have to have. There are many people out there who are faithless and feel a sense of hopelessness and despair. I’m here to tell them that if you persevere, the Lord will always come through and deliver you.” 

When I lived in Atlanta, Dusty played for the Braves. When I lived in LA, he played for the Dodgers. I am 77 and he is 73. I have always been a fan. 

They say he is the consummate players’ manager. It seems his players love to play for him. “We love going out there every day and competing for him.” Alex Bregman, the Houston Astros’ third baseman.

If Dusty wins his first World Series as a manager of the Astros, perhaps even some of the Phillies will be happy for him. Stranger things have happened.

Oh, Those Decisions

“Our twenties, when there is still so much time ahead of us, time that seems ample for a hundred indecisions, for a hundred visions and revisions—we draw a card, and we must decide right then and there whether to keep that card and discard the next, or discard the first card and keep the second. And before we know it, the deck has been played out and the decisions we have just made will shape our lives for decades to come.” Amor Towles, an American novelist. 

The male brain isn’t mature until about the age of 25. Most first-year male lawyers are 25, and male medical interns are 26. That’s a good thing. 

So, men do worse with youthful decisions than women. To make matters more regrettable, in their twenties people make momentous choices about their careers and spouses .

Somehow, most of us make it to our dotage, having made a few good decisions, despite the tribulation we all faced at ill-fated, youthful junctures.

Where am I now? Without God’s grace, I don’t know where I would be. I don’t like thinking about it. I smile from ear to ear for his blessing me with far better guidance and, at a minimum, longevity.

Healing

“All of us use art and literature as an escape from time to time, but if it’s any good, it has a healing quality–a quality that enlarges our human spirits.” Katherine Paterson, an American author best known for children’s novels. She is the winner of many awards, including two Newbery Medals. Yes, there is one “t” in Paterson.

I like to think art and literature deepen or uplift those spirits. The depressed find solace. Writers seeking better work have it modeled. Those who are socially encumbered can learn in fiction more sensitivity to others. To the Christian believer, I believe the Holy Spirit or counselor can minister to us through art and literature. 

Writing the blogs is healthy for me. Hopefully, there is at least an outside chance that some of what I write here is healing for you.