Friday, March 6, 2009

Have you ever fallen in love with words?

Fair Weather
Dorothy Parker
Sunset Gun, 1928

This level reach of blue is not my sea;
Here are sweet waters, pretty in the sun,
Whose quiet ripples meet obediently
A marked and measured line, one after one.
This is no sea of mine, that humbly laves
Untroubled sands, spread glittering and warm.
I have a need of wilder, crueler waves;
They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

So let a love beat over me again,
Loosing its million desperate breakers wide;
Sudden and terrible to rise and wane;
Roaring the heavens apart; a reckless tide
That casts upon the heart, as it recedes,
Splinters and spars and dripping, salty weeds.


I have completely and totally fallen head-over-heels in love with a poem and a particular phrase.

"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm."

No matter how many times I repeat the phrase; it never fails to stir something within me.

"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm."

I wrestle with mental illness. So did Dorothy Parker. She was a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, a group witty, urbane, caustic, playful bon vivants, writers, and critics that met daily for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919-1929. the group also met for poker at night calling themselves the "Thanatopsis Literary and Inside Straight Club."

She was an alcoholic and frequently contemplated suicide. She had a conflicted and unhappy childhood and her formal education ended when she was 13. She was black-listed as a communist while a screenwriter in Hollywood. She died at 73 in 1967 leaving her estate to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation and later transferred to the NAACP.

The struggle of mental illness is one of hills and valleys, Mt. Everest and the Marianas Trench, cane-pole fishing and the "Most Dangerous Catch," and calm seas and "The Perfect Storm."

"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm."

So much of my life is a storm. At first, I was just buffeted by the winds and torrential rains of my illness. I felt as though I had no control. It was difficult and excruciatingly painful. With each banging of my head against the mast of my rudderless ship, I lost hope of surviving. At the darkest, survival wasn't even the objective. The objective was to stop the pain. The difficulty came when I let the pain become my identity.

"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm."

Eventually comes spring and "the hills are alive…", the Sermon on the Mount happens, Andy and Opie head down to the Mayberry fishin' hole, and March is blue skies and bluebonnets in Texas.

"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm."

I am not my pain. I have an Authentic Self. My theme song does not have to be "It's a Small World After All."

"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm."

The calm can be good. The storms can become squalls. The calm does not discount my suffering. Rain comes, it makes things grow. I can grow. I can be calm. I can be resilient.

They sicken of the storm, who knew the calm.

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

Matthew 14:27


Friday, July 25, 2008

Let's Lighten It Up a Little

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.-Groucho Marx

I love all the variants to "old saws" about time.
  • Time flies when you're having fun.
  • Time's fun when you're having flies. (Frog Version)
  • If time flies when you're having fun, it hits the afterburners when you don't think you're having enough. Jef Mallett,
  • So little time and so little to do.-Oscar Levant
  • You can fool too many of the people too much of the time. James Thurber (1894 - 1961), New Yorker, Apr. 29, 1939 "The Owl who was God"
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein. Unknown.
  • Now is the time for all good men to come to. Walt Kelly (1913 - 1973), "Pogo"
  • Let not the sands of time get in your lunch. National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"
  • Most of the time I don't have much fun. The rest of the time I don't have any fun at all. Woody Allen (1935 - )
  • Never try to tell everything you know. It may take too short a time. Norman Ford
  • In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these. Paul Harvey
  • Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug. John Lithgow
  • When Solomon said there was a time and a place for everything he had not encountered the problem of parking his automobile. Bob Edwards
  • The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)
I stopped for a minute to go to the store. When I got in the car and turned on the radio I heard:

Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future

For those of you not listening to rock in the 70's these lyrics are from "Fly Like an Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band (1977).

We all get the same 24 hours a day. Try to make yours count. I'll try if you'll try.

Also from the song...

Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, there's a solution

Now THAT is a great way to spend some time. Check out this organization, Talitha Koum Institute that cares for our poorest and most vulnerable citizens in Central Texas.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Takes Me Back

"We must dare to think 'unthinkable' thoughts. We must learn to explore all the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world. We must learn to welcome and not to fear the voices of dissent. We must dare to think about 'unthinkable things' because when things become unthinkable, thinking stops and action becomes mindless."
- James W. Fulbright

At one time, Arkansas members of Congress held three of the most important positions in the country. William Fulbright was the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John McClennan was Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Wilbur Mills was Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. All three were Democrats. So, when I saw this quote, I was taken back to my Arkansas roots.

I have considered this quote from two points of view.

First, I have framed this quote in terms of what we must do as a society. That we live in a "complex and rapidly changing world" seems like an understatement. I don't know when Fulbright said this, but he served in the Senate from 1945 to 1975 and died in 1995. If the world he knew was complicated, imagine how he would feel now!

Every day there is evidence that we are thinking "unthinkable things." Intelligent design, stem cell research, cloning, global warming, when life begins and ends are things that in my youth would have been "unthinkable." As a society, most of us didn't even know that these were things we could think about! I don't believe that dissent is any more valued now than it was then. I think that we have reached a place in the development of our society where the only questions we have left are in those "unthinkable" areas. Ethical, moral and religious beliefs are entangled with most of the issues we face. I agree with Senator Fulbright that we can ill afford "mindless action" in our "complex and rapidly changing world."

When I read this quote from a deeply personal perspective I considered my journey in recent years. The "mindless actions" I began in childhood and the years of avoiding "unthinkable things" culminated in 2003 in a deep depression that very nearly led me to suicide in 2004. I received excellent psychiatric care that quite literally saved my life. As the biological component of my depression was stabilized with medication, I was encouraged to begin understanding and changing my destructive behaviors and irrational thought patterns through talking therapy. This journey has been marked by confrontation of the "unthinkable things" that damaged me as a child, skewed my thinking and affected my decision-making as an adult. I am learning "to explore all the options and possibilities that confront" me as I move into "maturity." An additional challenge is to "learn to welcome and not to fear the voices of dissent," particularly the dissenting voices of my adult children!

I got a little more personal than I initially intended. Please hold my revelations with care.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Beginning Again!

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees. - unknown

As part of some self-imposed self-discipline, I am going to do my best to post new entries to this blog on Mondays and Thursdays. Wish me luck.

I chose the quote above today because it eloquently describes how I make it through tough days. While I'm "faking it until I make it" my soul is asking for the strength to get through one more day. It asks for strength to to keep my facade intact for one more day. It asks for sleep to come quickly and for thoughts to be still.

When my mind is cluttered, confused and churning thoughts keep my rational mind clouded, I have to hope that deep inside of myself there is a spark (or prayer) that encourages me onward. I have to take it on faith that there is something within me or beyond me that prays for one more day.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Thoughts for a New Year

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

I saw Charlie Wilson's War last night. The end quote on the black screen suggested that we "f---ed the endgame" in Afghanistan. I hope we are learning and not making the same mistake in Iran.

I thought that this quote was exceptional and if anyone would understand this first hand, it would be President Eisenhower.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sober and Disorderly

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.

- AA Milne

I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the neat freaks.

Disorderly, disheveled, discombobulated, and pretty much all of the other "dis's" can be applied to me in some fashion or the other.

I made a "discovery" yesterday just like Pooh's creator. Actually it really comes under the "miracle of filing." I almost never file anything. Usually some soul who is highly organized and can't stand my entropy will eventually put my stuff in folders (even folders with labels!) in a file cabinet. Now I hate this and mourn for days that I can't find anything and worry that something important was discarded.

Anyway, I had been looking for some information that was 12 years old that I thought would be the magic bullet for the problem I was trying to solve. Yesterday I was looking through everything trying to find the directions on how to change a name on our phones when I found a file containing the info I needed. It was in a folder with a label. Of course, I had figured it would be in the middle of some pile or another. I did a little happy dance and then discovered that it really wasn't that helpful.

Oh, by the way, I wasn't so lucky at finding the phone instructions. I'll probably come across them while looking for something else.

I actually like having to go back through stacks of stuff. Since I pretty much keep everything, it's like a walk down memory lane. It's time consuming and a perfect pastime for a procrastinator.

Sometime in the future (if I find an appropriate quote) I'll tell you about the time my boss cleaned my office. She even cleaned out my desk drawers. Oh, the trauma of it all…


Friday, June 22, 2007

Muppet Wisdom & Memories

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.
- Miss Piggy

We don't hear much from Miss Piggy these days. I wonder what's up.

Are she and Kermit co-habitating? With the death years ago of Jim Henson, Kermit and Piggy could shack up without upsetting "Dad."

Where is Grover? That upstart Elmo really cut into Grover's airtime. Grover was the cute furry one when Elmo was fake fur on the bolt at Hancock's!

Remember the Muppet Show for grown-ups? Those were the days.

Why is it that in Saturday Night Live reruns you never, ever see the Muppet segments? Sometimes I think that I must have dreamed them up.

My 23 year old daughter was a Muppet fanatic. She had two Grovers that she wagged around everywhere. For a time she would only wear clothes with Grover on them. Thank goodness that J. C Penney had a steady supply!

My son was a Fraggle Rock man. I loved to read the Fraggle Rock books to him at bedtime. Most of them were in rhyme and quite clever.

When my kids outgrew the various Muppet characters, they forgot to take me with them.

For me, I'd rather be a Fraggle than a Doozer.