read between the lines

It is hardly surprising that children should enthusiastically start their education at
an early age with the Absolute Knowledge of computer science;
while they are unable to read, for reading demands making judgments at every line.
Conversation is almost dead, and soon so too will be those who knew how to speak.”

Guy deBord

autocorrect_big2

Chances are if you’ve ever received a text from me or even an email or…
ashamedly I confess, if you’ve ever read a post of mine…
you’ve most likely had to read between the lines….

Because between auto-correct, misinformed spell check and a life long issue with a bit of
dyslexia…what you see is often not what you’re meant to get…
Certainly not always what was intended…

However because you know me, or you understand the gist, or you are great at deciphering,
you understand what I’m saying without missing a beat….

Most of us are good like that.

I am heartened by the fact that I have a dear friend who has a automated tag line
on her phone’s messages that reads
“sorry if my iphone decided to spell words entirely on its own!”

What a relief knowing that someone out there understands me and knows
I’m not a complete moron!!!

Yet how good are we at reading between the lines of the times in which we currently
find ourselves living???

Yesterday evening I caught a bit of the news, coming in on a story about a staged walkout
in NYC among the city’s high school kids, with many of the kids appearing to be
Jr High age as well.

It seems that this protest was sent out over social media.
Not having seen the Facebook posts or tweets, I don’t know the gist of the alert but
it seems as if hundreds of kids headed the call at a particular time
to defiantly get up from class, file out of school,
filling and clogging the streets, carrying posters while laughing and chanting.

It seem the walkout was staged to protest President Trump’s travel ban.

A reporter was in the mix, stopping kids, asking them various questions.

Reporter: “What classes are you currently skipping?”

Student: “Calculus”

Reporter: “What happens if the teacher fails you for missing class or for missing a test?”

Student: “F*%k the A@$ hole”

I don’t know…
I taught high school for 31 years…

phrases like “F*%k the A@$ hole” …if I read between the lines, tells me that
this young person has really no clue as to what they’re doing or why they protesting..
they simply skipped Calculus, that’s all….
Plus….

If one of my kids had told a reporter such flippant garbage about me and my class,
well let’s just say the next day’s conversation would have been a bit one-sided…
with me being on the one side…

All the while reminding this young person about what it means to be an example,
how to carry of oneself in public,
self respect, along with a bit of a history lesson involved….
add to that, that I had never given this student any reason to speak about such
in said manner to a reporter,….
I would allow maybe a 10 second rebuttal before making a phone call home….

No reading between the lines on that…pretty frank, pretty clear.

Yet I wonder what the parent(s) would say….

Would the parent(s) defend their 16 year old’s “right” to walk out of a public school?
(public meaning the education is relatively free)
Would they be troubled about their child missing class, using profanity on national
television while addressing an adult…???
What about their child appearing as more hooligan than one who is educated,
well versed and mature ….

Maybe if they were attending a private school, where the parent was having to shell out
upwards of 20 grand a year, walking out might come with an entirely different reaction….

Would they puff up with bravado while supporting a child’s right to cut class and curse while
publicly disrespecting the President of the United States in a crude and crass manner?

Hummmm…

But then we’d get into that whole business about our youth and their self esteem issues
and God forbid that we should dare hold them responsible or accountable for their actions,
good or bad, with resulting repercussions for the bad…

Hence that whole “F#%$ the A$# hole teacher who’d fail me” mentality…

The student was holding a homemade sign.
The reporter asked about the sign.

It read “Punch Nazis”

The reporter reminded the student that she had just told him that she was nonviolent
yet is holding a sign about punching Nazis…

Reporter: “I thought you just said you were nonviolent”

Student: “Oh, uh, I’m against gun violence”

The reporter went on, continuing his off the cuff random interviews of about a dozen or so of
the hundreds of kids, with nary a one of the students interviewed being able to name the
7 countries on the travel ban.

When asked what was wrong with strong vetting of folks wanting come into this country from
known Terrorist nations one student quipped back that “we live in a Terrorist Nation…”

Sigh….

This walkout was just an apparent adolescent attempt to jump on
the currently very sad national bandwagon…

But who can blame them.

Didn’t it look absolutely thrilling when masked salaried anarchists were hurling bricks and
using hammers to smash the plate-glass windows belonging to banks and store fronts along
the streets of Washington D.C. all because an elected president was being sworn in?

And didn’t it look invigorating to see hundreds of women marching en masse while shouting
vulgar slurs while wearing “vagina” hats demanding their rights to abort babies while
cursing the reigning Nazis….

And so we wonder why kids now want in on the act…

So it might behoove us to get better at reading between the lines because the signs of the times
ain’t looking so hot….

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable,
slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous,
reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Avoid such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

revolving

“A man who overindulges lives in a dream. He becomes conceited.
He thinks the whole world revolves around him; and it usually does.”

W. C. Fields

“There are ultimately only two possible adjustments to life;
one is to suit our lives to principles; the other is to suit principles to our lives.
If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live.
The method of adjusting moral principles to the way men live is
just a perversion of the order of things.”

Fulton J. Sheen

sun_planets
(image courtesy the web)

The gravitational pull is strong.
Yet science purports that it is not actually a force…

“Gravity is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity
(proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915) which describes gravity not as a force,
but as a consequence of the curvature of spacetime caused by
the uneven distribution of mass/energy.
The most extreme example of this curvature of spacetime is a black hole,
from which nothing can escape once past its event horizon, not even light.[1]

Wikipedia

Yet it is by this most assumed force, or consequence,
that we are grounded and anchored to our planet.
For without such a force, or consequence as it were,
there would be nothing to keep us in place….
As we and everything else would be floating around willy nilly,
with nothing solid underneath our feet.

And even our very planet, which holds us each in place,
is locked in its own gravitational orbit…
continually circling around and around a central orb.
Held in the same track and pattern day in and day out, year in and year out…
for nary the slightest deviation would spell complete and utter devastation.

And thus within this solar continuum, man finds himself orbiting…
yet not as a part of the obvious, as atop his own planet…
but orbiting rather, on his very own.
Orbiting and revolving around not so much a sun,
but rather his own sense of self.

Yet what man, in his endless self revolving orbit, has failed to grasp
is that the unevenness of self absorption will lead to an extreme curvature
of awareness,
a deeply flawed and skewed awareness,
thus leading to the formation of a gaping black hole…
A relentless and all consuming blackness resulting in the unequal distribution of
man’s self orbit filled by both ego and pride.
A black hole that will consume man, obliterating his very life’s orbit,
A black hole that will eventually not even permit man’s light of hope to escape…
because by that time, it will be all too late…

the resulting hell of the egocentric…

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable,
slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless,
swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Avoid such people

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Life’s fragile moments

Beauty is a fragile gift.
Ovid

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DSCN8309
(gerber daisy, with a small shield bug / stink bug / Julie Cook / 2014)

This beautiful gerber daisy continues blooming like nobody’s business, unaware that in a few short weeks, the first frost of the year is predictably scheduled. Until then, I suppose we shall bask in the vibrant colors and beauty of the last hoorah of a slow fading season.

Beauty of a flower, with it’s often quickly fading glory, is not the only fragile “gift” I’ve recently been privy to observe. . .rather, it is Life herself, that is most tenderly fragile. . .as I have so poignantly observed over the past couple of weeks. . .

I did something this morning that I have never done before. I finished my 30 minutes of pure torture on the elliptical when something unexplainable inside myself made me push the start button—again.
A double run.
It must have been an outer body experience.
Sweat was already pouring down my face, my toes were already numb and luckily I had yet to inhale my gum.

Maybe it’s because in two weeks I’ll be turning 55.
Maybe it’s due to the black cherry juice (yes black cherry juice but more about that another day).
Maybe it’s because of the cheesecake.
Cheesecake, did she just say cheesecake?!
Yes.
And I’m proud of it.
I made the most heavenly and unctuous cheesecake over the weekend. I haven’t made, let alone eaten, a cheesecake in years.
What’s so bad?
It’s got all the major food groups—dairy, eggs, grains —graham crackers are a grains right?
And for all of you über svelte individuals out there who post your latest marathon number on the back window of your cars and nosh on kale chips and who are currently rolling your eyes over my paltry 30 minutes of weights and a 30 minute elliptical “run”, now doubled, on this fine Tuesday, may it be noted that I work rather hard at striking a balance, trying not to go too far off on any one tangent— or ledge for that matter.

Life is all about a healthy balance. . .
A balance of activity, spiritually, health, relationships and butter. Yes you heard / read me correctly, butter.
Remember, I grew up as a member of the Julia Child butter is life club. . .life is no fun without butter. . .

Yet it is my having witnessed and observed a couple of “encounters” over the past several weeks which has not only touched my heart, but has brought my attention around to this precious thing we call Life. . . with all of her tragedies, her triumphs and her fragility, of which has maybe pushed me a bit further this morning in the pushing of myself. . .

Two weekends ago a friend of mine popped in on a Saturday afternoon for a visit of catch up. Her daughter, who went to school with my son, has moved far way. And not that she’s not been away before, she has. It’s just that now, her mom ( my friend) always knew it was temporary—as in away at college, away on trips, away on study abroad programs–always knowing she’d be returning . . .home. . .
This time however, the move is more of a permanent nature.
As in moving to Chicago to live and work sort of permanent.

She and her husband had just returned from a quick weekend visit–the first visit since the big move.
The daughter had plotted and planned a grand weekend adventure for her parents as it was their first trip to the Windy City. At one point during the adventure, the daughter looked at her mom asking if there was anything special she wanted to do or see before having to head back south to Georgia.
My friend then said something that struck such a deep chord in my soul. She turned to her daughter, locking her arm around her daughter’s arm and said– “I didn’t come up here to be entertained. I don’t care if I do or see a single thing. . .the only thing I wanted to do was to be with you”

WOW!

That took my breath away not to mention the sudden tears filling my eyes.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have a mom anymore who can say that to me or that I can now finally truly appreciate hearing that from my mom–or that I would long hearing that from my mom.
I suddenly felt a tremendous sense of sadness missing my mom.
Maybe it’s because I was thinking sightseeing mode for my friend and the fact that she just wanted / needed to see her daughter, as that was all that simply mattered, caught me by surprise.
Only the love of a mother. . .

The next observation came Friday evening. My husband and I had gone to dinner at a local restaurant. The place was packed as we were lead over to our table. Scanning the overtly crowded restaurant, I thought I recognized the face of a former student but thought better of it as I knew he was now making his home in Atlanta. Out of the blue, a friend who had seen us being seated, made her way over to say hello. It turns out she and her husband were actually dinning with this former student and his family.

In the midsts of her conversation, she began telling me something about this particular student, when suddenly she said “after his accident. . .”
Accident? I inquired as I had no knowledge of him having been in an accident.
She proceeds to tell me that yes, he had a diving accident almost two years ago and was now paralyzed from the shoulders down.
“WHAT??!!”

Long story short. . . I got up and went over to his table to speak with him. He had come to see me just before I retired a little over two years ago. He had graduated college and was actually working at the State Capital. He had had this diving accident shortly after seeing me at school and has since been in rehab and therapy working on some hoped for mobility.

As I made my way back to my husband and our supper, I was still so terribly shocked. Such a vivacious, joyful young man perched on the periphery of a long career and happy future when BAM, he’s thrown a devastating curve ball. Yet he still possesses that most vivacious smile and joyful spirit.
I wondered if I could or would have any sort of spirit if I was sitting in his place or if I were his mom. The unfairness of life plagued my heart.

The last situation came about yesterday.
I had run up town to a local little farmer’s co-op when I ran into a young man I had had the pleasure of working with many years back. I had also had the pleasure of teaching his wife many years ago. I actually had worked with both this young man as well as his older brother as they each began with careers in education at my school. Having long left teaching, he now owns his own investment firm and is quite successful.

As this was a Monday morning and he was not dressed for the office, I asked if he wasn’t working today or did he take Monday’s off. He seemed to be a bit reserved which was quite out of character.
He hung his head a bit, telling me that “no, this is the second anniversary of my son’s death and I just couldn’t go in to work today.”

Hit with the enormity of his words, I felt winded.

Two years ago, as he and his beautiful family, his wife and three young sons, were leaving a restaurant off our town’s small downtown square, just as the family was crossing the street, a truck made a shape turn into the intersection, not seeing the young child at the end of family’s journey across the street, the truck struck and killed the little boy.

It was a terrible accident. The young teen driver had simply not seen the little boy. It was a devastatingly tragic accident. An accident which shook our entire community.
I had not realized, when I saw my friend, that this particular day had marked the very sad day of remembrance for his family. Again, the unfairness of life plagued my heart. As a parent, who has not suffered though such a tragedy, any and all words of solace on my part ring terribly empty, as simply, there are no words.

And so it is on this October day that I am most mindful of Life and of her most fragile nature.
Her Triumphs and her tragedies.
We are joined together, you and I, by the ties of such events which take place each and every day.
It is what joyfully or sadly grants us a unifying humanity. For good or for bad we journey together on this planet. We are all given choices. We may either join together supporting one another as the global family we are, or we may rile against one another with suspison, distrust and hate.

There are those who are bent on destruction and hate.
And I wonder, what is the point.
I am reminded of the lyrics of Gary Jules song, It’s a mad world:
“And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you,
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world, mad world, mad world”

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5

May we choose caring, may we choose compassion, may we choose love, may we choose Life.
Life is simply too fragile to choose anything else.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:3-4

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