Friday, November 29, 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things, Revisited

As I was reviewing “hits” on my LifeCentering blog this morning, I noticed an article I posted in July 2012 had been visited by a reader  The article was my response to a book by Cheryl Strayed.   After looking at the post I decided to repost it, especially since Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, was being made into a movie.  Reese Witherspoon is cast as Cheryl.  Some of you may be following her Facebook page and know the details.

I found my comments from that post are still important to me today.  Maybe you will find the review helpful as well.

Tiny Beautiful Things
I know that some of you don’t really care about what I have read or why or how it affected me.  But some of you do.  It is to you that I write to let you know I just finished, Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl (Dear Sugar) Strayed.  My previous article on this blog was primarily about the author’s book, Wild: From Lost To Found On the Pacific Crest Trail.  Dear Sugar was an advice column written by the author, who had remained anonymous until recently.  I read about her book, Wild, in our local paper and it was in that review that she “outed” herself as the person who had been writing the advice on love and life column for The 

Now why in the world would I, a retired person living alone, care at all about advice on love and life?  Actually, when I started reading the book, it was not because it consisted of many of the advice letters she had received and answered.  It was because of how impressed I was with her writing in general.  Since I consider myself a writer as well, I am interested in how other authors develop their ideas.  I knew from reading Wild that I would probably like her latest work.

In a way I was not surprised by the fact that her “advice” on love and life hit a resonant chord for me in so many ways.  I have had my share of love and life experiences and feel I learned something about myself in each of them.  However, I discovered new ways of looking at love and life, especially as I thought of the people I have loved and do love.  I never really felt I deserved to be loved.  Expectations about what could be or should be the way love works were never quite that way for me because of that lack of deserving.  I spent much of my time with a therapist trying to better understand the ways in which I really did deserve to be loved and to how love others.  I wish I could say I have finished that part of my learning experience.  I have not.

I still am unable to articulate what love is all about.  I know though that in the pages of this book I constantly gained insights that I strongly felt were representative of my needs and ways in which I could have done better in relationships and hopefully can apply from here on out to my friends and loved ones.  There is always something to learn.  Life is never finished and we should not delude ourselves into thinking that we have arrived at some exact point of conclusion (on any subject).

One very personal event in my life was touched upon in this book.  Some years ago I shared with my son something that I had felt about our relationship.  I told him that I felt he was my teacher.  How I stated that at the time is probably not how I actually felt it, but it was the clearest way I could say it at the time. Here in this book I gained a further insight to what I tried to convey to my son then.  Dear Sugar, in her response to “Living Dead Dad” said:

More will be revealed.  Your son hasn’t yet taught you everything he has to teach you.  He taught you how to love like you’ve never loved before.  He taught you how to suffer like you’ve never suffered before.  Perhaps the next thing he has to teach you is acceptance.  And the thing after that, forgiveness.

Love is such a powerful thing.  It will teach you whether you like it or not and whether you are ready or not.  What it will teach you is personal in every case.  Whether we will accept the potential lesson and move with it is up to each of us.  I will tell you this, you do not have to have all the answers about love and life in order to love and live!  Just do it for god’s sake!  Do it as best you can.  Love everyone and every experience that comes your way.  You will never regret having loved.  If you feel regret for having loved someone who did not love you back as you hoped, maybe there is another way to love that person without your expectation of the way it should be.  I don’t know how it will be for you, but I know each of us must keep loving and finding new ways to express love.  Otherwise, we are not truly living.

Cheryl Strayed pulled absolutely no punches in her advice.  She hit so hard it must have felt like literally being hit in the stomach for some of those who wrote to her.  It certainly knotted my stomach more than once. But, and this is a big but, she never attempted to belittle the writers no matter how apparently stupid, unforgiving or judgmental their attitude may have been.  And she always caressed softly with her words the tender spots they exposed so that each person could be receptive enough to fully consider the possibilities within their particular challenge.

I wish I could be as clear and caring and direct with love in my writing as Sugar is.  Maybe it is because I am a retired person living alone that this writer has come into my life.  I certainly feel uplifted and blessed by having her work in my library and in my consciousness.  Maybe you would like her too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful, Thankful, Thankful!

Yes, indeed, I am most thankful for many things this year.

It is now 2:45 PST and I have eaten the sumptuous meal I planned and executed according to that plan, albeit having rushed it to fruition a bit sooner than I planned.  Let’s face it, you can’t smell roasting turkey for three hours plus and not want to get at tasting it!  I won’t go into the menu since I posted it earlier on Facebook, but suffice it to say I enjoyed everything anyone could imagine for the feast day

Being a Type A personality, and getting up at 5:30 AM it was almost impossible to wait the day through to get at dinner.  I originally planned to eat around 4:00 PM.  I did everything I could in advance of actually cooking everything and it was still too early.  I even managed to start the turkey earlier than planned (by mistake, actually), but that turned out to be fortuitous because it allowed dinner to come earlier.

In my defense, I do not believe the food was any less tasty to have been on the table early.  However, If I had guests, I am afraid they might not have been as comfortable with my scurrying around as I would have liked them to be.

A good Riesling wine before, during and after dinner made everything better I am sure, at least it seemed that way.  Maybe that’s what wine is all about.  Hmmmm.  Of course, not having someone to converse with over dinner was a disappointment, but I have always been a good conversationalist with myself!.   No matter what the subject I can guide it my way satisfactorily and no one has to be defensive.

But to the point of this blather:  I truly am thankful for so many things.  A year ago and for several years prior to that time, I had no agenda for living.  I existed.  Sure, I did all right.  I always have.  But I really didn’t care much about anything.  Then came the opportunity make a move, something someone in my position at my age probably would not normally do.  I bought a manufactured home and moved from my home territory of Beaverton to the more rural community of Dallas, Oregon, just west of Salem.  It has been like a rebirth to me.  I suddenly had reasons to do things that I could not do in an apartment.  I was no longer feeling home bound and I managed to get out and explore my surroundings.  Not everyone could understand what in the wor\ld I was doing with such a choice, but even that did not matter any more.  I was, am living again!

I am thankful for my family, my son and daughter and their families.  I am now a great grandfather and it is unbelievable to experience that, especially since in my own mind I am still a young adult!

I am thankful for friends, near and far.  Some friends have been in my life for many years.  Others are of more recent connections.  All are special to me even though I am terrible when it comes to doing the little things that most friends do with and for each other.  Believe me, no slight is intended. 

I am grateful to have been able to care for myself and my needs to the extent that I have.  Economically, I am grateful to be experiencing the developing security that comes with an expanding economy.  I believe my security comes from believing in a Providence that cares for its creation and I try to be conscious of my part in having the faith that will guide my decisions as long as I am in this dimension, I know that I have a responsibility to act positively and be sensitive to any guidance that comes from any source.

So, my friends, these are some of my reasons for loving to live today and for being grateful for all of the good that comes my way, especially in the form of family and friends.  Love to you all!