This is my old friend Skeptic. When she’s in a good mood, skeptic tells me that I should be cautious. She says the facts don’t support the feeling. But most of the time the skeptic speaks urgently about how self healing and magic are nonsense. She calls them “floaty woo woo”. She is very concerned what other people think. She is scared that the world will crush what’s left of who she is. She hides in the shadows. She is sad and only half alive.

This is Fear. He is pain. He is a bully. He is small and weak and afraid of being found out. He is a fraud, he leers at me to keep me in my place so that I won’t look too closely and find out his secret. He has no real power.

As I have looked hard at my old, tired, familiar friends; Fear and Skepticism, they’ve been transformed into Compassion and Curiosity.

I am a Seeker

I have been on a journey to find myself and

I was here the whole time.

I grow, I change, I expand, yet I am here

and always have been.

I am Divine, I am a part of creation and

creation is a divine impulse, and gift, in me.

I am a Seeker, I am Divine, I am here and always have been.

“How Are You?”

“Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon”, “Hello”….and so the greetings go, but most people have been conditioned to think that the greeting is insufficient, that it needs more.  Invariably, people choose “How are you?” as the follow up to their greeting. I struggle with that. A LOT.

Does the random stranger really want to know that my husband died five years ago, that I seem to be feeling grief today? Does my coworker really want to know that I stayed up too late last night and I have a headache? Do I really want to share this information, with these people?

In my life I tend to be pretty frank. However, in the greeting game I struggle. There are people who need to know my true and honest answer, there are people don’t. There are people who care about my true and honest answer, people who don’t. The whole lot comes down to: why do we ask the question if we don’t care about the answer? It seems as though it is because our society dictates that we be polite, we are supposed to say “hello, how are you?” But I struggle with that because, the truth of the matter is that most people don’t want the answer to the question nor do they want to answer truthfully. They are simply being polite.

On the occasions that I forget and answer honestly, I am reminded of a scene in the movie Groundhog’s Day. Early in the day, the bed and breakfast owner says to Bill Murray (who is a weatherman by profession), “There’s talk of a blizzard.” Phil (Bill Murray’s character) goes into a rather protracted weather report in which he predicts that the blizzard is going to miss Punxsutawney, the town where the Groundhog celebration is held. As he closes, he asks “Did you want to talk about the weather or were you making idle chitchat?” She looks a little sheepish, and down at her hands and says “chitchat”. He, of course, walks away annoyed. The interesting thing about this exchange is that Phil is quite jaded and cares about nothing and nobody at this point in the film. However, for this brief moment we see how passionate he is about the weather, something the rest of us don’t really care all that much about. It is much the same with the greeting “How are you?” for me. When people ask me how I am, I want to tell them, but know that no one, for the most part, really cares. And when I ask, I genuinely want to know and I’m pretty good at picking up on people who are just masking their true emotions because they don’t want to share or perceive I don’t really care. I’m trying to come up with different greetings so that the exchange feels less disingenuous. Interestingly, I keep landing on the weather.

“Good morning, there’s talk of a blizzard” sounds great in the heat of July.

Rain in December

Today I asked my 17 year old if he wanted to go on a Climate March with me. He said “probably not”. That’s code for no. I then asked him what he thought he owed the world or other people. He didn’t follow….I explained that I meant what is his mission or purpose. (Did I mention it’s rainy and about 40 degrees?) He gestured to the window and said “I would but…” In fairness, the environment is my passion and it’s not his. I no more expected him to go than start flying, except sometimes he surprises me.

I shifted gears to teach a life lesson, but decided to ask one more question instead. “Outside this conversation, what do you do for the world, what’s important to you?” His answer, “Help other people”. Simple, direct, lovely. And he does, when he notices or is asked. Always. Made me think of my Grandpa Skak who used to recite poetry. Among the many poems he shared with me was this one.

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,

And saw, within the moonlight in his room,

Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold:—

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,

And to the Presence in the room he said

“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,

And with a look made of all sweet accord,

Answered “The names of those who love the Lord.”

“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”

Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,

But cheerly still, and said “I pray thee, then,

Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night

It came again with a great wakening light,

And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,

And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

James Henry Leigh Hunt

I’ve always thought that this was pretty inspirational and so is my kid.

PS I’m going to this Climate Walk, surely the environment is “helping” our cause by raining on December 13 in Iowa. Pretty sure 30 years ago this would have been a snowstorm that would have kept us indoors all day.