I’m not okay, you’re not okay, but that’s okay.

“About yesterday, no tears. About tomorrow, no fears.” ~Byrl Rather’s advice to her son, Dan

Personally, I am the Master of Distraction. I have no tears or fears because I mentally change the channel whenever a memory or premonition pops into my head.

I grew up in an era when we were advised to work through things, deal with things, confront things; I can’t do that. I don’t know what the process is, I don’t know what the goal would be.

I do sometimes wonder if my way is the healthiest way. We were always told that avoiding our feelings is a Bad Thing. But truthfully, this works for me, and seems to be working well.

I suppose it’s that old hippie mantra, “Live for today,” or those old Buddhist teachings about living in the present moment.

I don’t know if Mrs. Rather would approve or not.

I’m off now to cultivate my garden.

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Pierced

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ~1 Timothy 6:10

I don’t think this means money in the literal sense of coins and paper, I think it’s meant to mean self-centeredness and selfishness in general. When you look at the actions considered “sinful,” you always find selfishness at the center. Adultery, stealing, dishonesty, false idols; all of those things happen when a person puts their own pleasure above all else.

And the seldom-quoted second half is, to me, the more significant part: “pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” While those things might bring a temporary distraction, they don’t offer lasting happiness.  Karma might hit them dramatically with a divorce or a prison sentence, it might lock  them into a cycle or repeated peaks and valleys from which they cannot escape, or it might just be the crushing realization, late at night, that their lives are hollow and unbalanced.

I don’t know of any selfish people who are happy. There certainly aren’t any who are kind. And ultimately, as they spend their lives forever chasing their next high, they become completely insignificant.

There are always consequences.

There is joy

There’s a line in a song, I forget which one, where Prince sings, “There is joy in repetition.” Singing that line made him happy, so he sang it about thirty more times.

And he’s right, there is a singular joy that comes from repetition. Catholics have their rosary, Eastern religions have mantra meditation. Techno is based on repeated notes, and everybody enjoys the part of the song where the chorus comes back around again. Poems and paintings are sometimes just patterns and variations on patterns.

Life is pretty unpredictable, and it seems like surprises are always of the unpleasant kind. I think the joy that comes from repetition is the comfort of knowing, at least in a limited way, what comes next.

…the delight on my father’s face.

In this excerpt from his autobiography, I Remember ©1991, Dan Rather shares a warm memory from his childhood:

Late one night when I was five or six years old and had long been put to bed, I woke up and heard music being played in the kitchen. This was unusual for such an advanced hour, so I got up, cracked my door open quietly, and peeked to see what was going on.

They didn’t see me, but I glimpsed what looked to me like a magical sight. I didn’t want to disrupt it. My parents were dancing.

They danced for a long time, maybe an hour, off an on, sometimes stopping to fine-tune the radio through the static, trying to bring in one of the outlaw stations across the Mexican border, the ones that carried slow and fast tunes. These outlets were also home to “Doc” John R. Brinkley, once candidate for governor of Kansas, who promised rejuvenation with a “goat gland” treatment that cost $750, which made us laugh our heads off. He was our Johnny Carson.

Doc Brinkley was not on the air that night, so Mother and Father danced through the static, ballads, and all other kinds of music, and they were plainly happier than I’d ever seen them. Mother hummed along much of the time and both were smiling a lot. It was especially sweet and remarkable to see the delight on my father’s face. The pressures of the workday had been lifted from his features; I remember that distinctly.

I try to live a healthy life. I exercise regularly and practice yoga daily. I meditate.  I take a vitamin.  I eat oatmeal for breakfast, even though it’s rather on the bland side, because I know it’s better for me than a big bowl of Lucky Charms.

But I believe that life is meant to be enjoyed, so I do treat myself sometimes.

I have this vision that after I die, God will call me to His throne.  He will look me square in the eye, lean forward, then whisper, “Did you try the pie?”

And I want to be able to answer, “Yes, I did!”