human

“Do you know what the definition of insane is?
Yes.
It’s the inability to relate to another human being.
It’s the inability to love.”

― Richard Yates


(Leonardo’s Vitruvian man / 1490)

So last night, as I sat flipping through a bit of television, I stopped to catch a bit
of the reality singing competition The Voice.
I don’t like watching much that is offered on television.
I find most everything to be repulsive, in poor taste, vile, overtly violent, offensively
borderline pornographic, or plain silly, dumb and insulting to one’s intellect and moral code.

So I took my chances with people singing who were wanting to win a singing competition.
Relatively benign…that is until the judges open their mouths.

One of the guy contestants chose to sing the song Human and made the comment that
he was all about love and none of the current hating mindset ravaging the country…
what with all the full blown contempt everyone seems to have for those who may differ
in opinion than, say, their fellow man….

His particular song of choice has been around a while with a myriad of remakes.

Maybe I’m foolish
Maybe I’m blind
Thinking I can see through this
And see what’s behind
Got no way to prove it
So maybe I’m blind
But I’m only human after all
I’m only human after all
Don’t put your blame on me
Don’t put your blame on me

It’s a nice enough sentiment I suppose.

As in I’m just human….
full of vulnerability, foibles and obviously error prone.
So don’t blame me…..

But herein lies the rub….or at least the problem.

It’s that whole “don’t blame me” sort of mentality that currently has us in
the worst of trouble.

It’s the passing of the blame.
It’s the “I’m right, you’re wrong” tit for tat, back and forth we go mentality.
It’s the lack of stepping up to the plate of responsibility.
The whole deferring to taking responsibility for ones actions.
Act like a bafoon one minute then maybe apologize later if you get caught.
“I didn’t mean to, I’m only human”

It’s the “uh oh—it seems that when I got mad and decided to go join the protest,
getting caught up in the excitement of the destructive moment and threw that brick through
that bank’s plate glass window then helped overturn the police car, lighting it on fire…
well, your honor, I’m only human and didn’t really mean it….

For you see, that sort of mindset does not hold water….
and yet sadly that is the mindset sweeping through our land.
I’m really not responsible for what I do because as a human, screwing up is just part and parcel…
Add all those thinking along the same lines and you get….
Irresponsible manic mania.

Is it not enough that there is a sweeping lack of moral conviction,
humankind irresponsibility or a total lack of understanding for those who
actually believe in taking the higher ground…
but now we simply blame it on our humanness.

Contrary to popular belief,
we are called to stand up and be accountable to not only ourselves but to our fellow man.
We are called to be responsible for our actions.
We are called to be respectful to ourselves as well as to others.

The code for living that was delivered to Moses was pretty simple…as well as clear cut.

Recently I caught an interview over on Fox News with their chief Religion correspondent,
Lauren Green….
She has a new book out, Lighthouse Faith: God as a Living Reality in a World Immersed in Fog

Lauren explains the title of her book as being based on the concept of the Ten Commandments.
She notes that “here you have a seminal point found in the very first commandment…”
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Lauren goes on to explain that by breaking commandants 2-10, you will always have broken 1.
As number 1 is the pinnacle that everything else descends from.
A very academic and legal approach to looking at how we are to be living our lives…

So yes…we are only human—
perfectly formed and lovingly made—
by an awesome and Omnipotent God who knew, that in our vulnerable humanness,
we would need a set of rules to live by—simple and straightforward…
yet as only as we humans could…we messed up simple and straightforward—

And so now enters the One who takes that humanness of brokeness and error
and brings both healing and Grace…

This is love: not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10

life is a highway

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

Chorus from Life is a Highway
Rascal Flats

IMG_1380
(sitting on Atlanta’s infamous 285 / Julie Cook / 2015)

It was a beautiful blue sky, polka dotted popcorn cloud, kind of day.
The kind of day one should be on a road trip to the beach. . .
Not the kind of day to be racing the 70 miles over to Dads. . .

I get a call Saturday afternoon from the care giver. . .
The only thing I can understand and make out is
“911,
can’t breathe,
Ms Gloria. . .”

I immediately call Gloria’s son telling him the ambulance is on its way
as I’m grabbing my keys, racing out the door.

One would think that a Saturday’s drive to the city would be a piece of cake.
Idyllic,
Quick,
Easy,
Just a carefree sort of blue sky kind of day,
A beautiful day for a drive. . .

Suddenly there is an odd sound coming from somewhere in my car or my head, or. . .
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Atlanta does all of its interstate roadwork on weekends.
Upon my approach to the Perimeter, aka 285, I notice that traffic is backed up and at a dead stop.
Hummmmmmm. . .
Quickly deciding I’ll be smart. . .
I’ll just head straight, going straight through town, hitting the connector.
You know, downtown,
As in downtown. . .
As in Petula Clark now singing in my head. . .

So go downtown
Where all the lights are bright, downtown
Waiting for you tonight, downtown
You’re gonna be alright now, downtown

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
Hysterical laughter is again raining down from what I have determined to be the mystical traffic gods.

It’s a stop and go drive the entire way. . .
Are you freaking kidding me!!!!!???
It’s Saturday for heaven’s sake!!!!!!!

Here’s the question—
If I drive on the emergency outside lane, bypassing the madness, would a state patrolman
cut me any slack if I told him I’m trying to get to my dad’s as my 87 stepmother may be having
a heart attack?
Do I take the chance. . .
Hummmmmmm

Long story short—-
Thankfully Gloria checks out fine.
With a few non threatening concerns to be addressed at a later date.
Dad is now much calmer
And life is back to its normal level of surrealism at 4825

As the sun begins to set, with everyone settled back into place,
it’s time to make the trek back home.
Traffic should be better, right?
It should be a breeze getting home. . .right?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
The traffic gods are laughing again.

Stop and go.
45 minutes sitting on 285 when I should have been long gone,
It takes me an hour just to get on to I20 in order to head out of town.
Stop and go the entire way home. . .
It’s Saturday. . .
Are you freaking kidding me????

Does anyone ever go home, or get to where they want to go???

Oh. . .and should I be concerned when a storm chaser van, changing lanes, pulls in front of me
exiting onto my same exit?

IMG_1384

I scan the blue sky and popcorn clouds.

I follow the storm chasers. . .
wondering, what’s in store for me further down the road. . .
when suddenly, I burst into song. . .

“Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside ev’ry darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won’t hesitate
To break down the garden gate
There’s not much time left today”

Life is a Highway
Rascal Flats

The pursuit of “happy”

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
Roald Dahl

DSCN3698
(sometimes we have to kiss a lot of frogs in order to find a little Happiness)

What makes you happy?
Being happy, especially this time of year, throughout what I refer to as the doldrums of the year, the months of being in-between—-as in, in between seasons, in between holidays, in between sun and gray sky, in between barren and ladened, in between football and baseball. . .is certainly no easy task. In fact most folks are walking around with heads hung low, shoulders slumped, jacket collars turned upward in the endless deflection of snow, rain and cold wind.

Sometimes it is most apparent that we just need something to kick-start that part of the brain that houses the pleasure center—something to pump up those neurotransmitters in the brain which are responsible for helping to make us happy—neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. And no I’m not talking about popping a pill, having a drink, eating a doughnut—ummmmm a doughnut. . . oh a doughnut sounds so good right about now! I haven’t had a doughnut in probably a year or so—that decadent, yeasty, sugary piece of heaven in circular form ..You are now hearing the slap slap to the face and the “get a hold of yourself woman”. . .

Nope, none of that aforementioned sort of engaging in the empty thrill of the moment indulgences that act like quick fixes to happiness—of which merely equates to emptiness. No siree, none of that for us, we want the genuinely feeling of happy, the type that can’t be found in food, drink, sex, excess, emptiness or guilt. We want innocent, joyful, self satisfying, deeply real happy. I’m talking about the sort of happiness that you work to achieve more naturally, more or less from that which is obtained from the world around us.

Today, seeing this chocolate frog helps.
He makes me smile.

I suppose there is a twofold happiness hiding in the frog—first of all, he’s just kind of cute and silly all rolled into one, secondly, he is chocolate—how can you beat that? And no, I’m not going to eat him as to do so would be, again, one of those short-lived temporary fixes of happiness that would give way to guilt and disappointment. How do you expect me to fit in a mother of the groom dress by eating my way through chocolate frogs?!

I would love to show you a photograph of a beautiful flower or a bright sunny day accented with those insanely white popcorn clouds, the type of sky and delightfully warm day that makes you want to lie down in a field somewhere, arms folded under your head, listening to the birds sing as you gaze skyward, just savoring the feeling of contentment and happiness of being alive- kind of picture —but alas, it’s a cool day as a storm moved through again. And Lord knows there’s not nary a blooming flower outside for the nearest 500 miles from here.

The frog will have to do.

I have also found a little song that seems to be working for me—putting a smile on my face and a skip in my step. . .

“Happy”
by Pharrell Williams
It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way
—–
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
——-
Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don’t waste your time
Here’s why
——-
Hey, come on
(happy)
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
My level’s too high
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
I said (let me tell you now)
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
My level’s too high
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
——-
I said Hey, come on
(happy)
Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down… my level’s too high…
Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down, I said (let me tell you now)
——–
Come on

—-

Have you ever seen a 54 year old woman who is known for being rather subdued, low key, unemotional, always rather serious. . . “dancing” around her house, holding an I-Phone in one hand, which is blaring out this song, hopping and bounding around the house without a care in the world—for no one but the cats to take notice?!

If anything, that alone should put a smile on your face and make you happy! (Those out there who actually know me and are reading this are now pretending they have no idea who I am)

Sometimes, I think one just has to sing despite the inability to carry a tune, dance despite the lack of rhythm, and find happiness in the face of a chocolate frog. . .

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
how profound your thoughts!

Psalm 92: 4-5