Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What if's

I've run into one of those situations that requires me to keep my mouth shut. This is a tricky one, though. It involves three people that I like. Not saying anything is the easy part. The situation itself is the hard part, and it's impact on me is minimal. It's hard because I have a pretty clear view of all sides and I see how each of the three is put into a circumstance that none of them really want. It's one of those times when no matter what the outcome, someone gets hurt. It's not like anything I could say would make it better. I guess more than anything, I'm curious about the choices that have been made. Let's face it, this whole thing is an example of the sorts of choices that people make.

Choices can have really great outcomes, and of course, they can result in some not so great things. What's funny is that sometimes we don't realize how the choices we make will affect us until much, much later. That's when regret can enter the picture. Choice and regreat are a formidable pair. When faced with making a tough choice, the ability to see into the future would come in really handy, thus avoiding the possibility of regret. Regret can linger for days and days, even longer than that. Most of the time that large quantity of regret is the work of one, single choice.

The worst combination of choice and regret is when we make a choice that we know is right, and regret it's outcome by second guessing ourselves. Then we have guilt. Guilt is the third member of the choice-regret-guilt trinity. Guilt is the most unforgiving of the three, I think. Guilt can eat you alive if you let it. Guilt is smart, too. Guilt has the ability to make itself known before you actually do something. Let's say that you are doing/not doing something that you know is having/going to effect someone else. You may choose to/not to do said thing, and sometimes you know that you'll feel guility later about doing/not doing it. So in a way, guilt can start messing with your head even before you have anything to be guilty about.

The good news is that we have a choice about how we respond to the various ups and downs we encounter. We have a choice to not let regret get the better of us, and we have a choice about feeling guilty regarding the things we can not change.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Count your blessings

Being with my parents this week has caused me to reflect on some things. For one, I'm very glad that my dad is still around after his surgery, and that the worst appears to be over. By all accounts, he should recover pretty close to fully. He was moved to rehab today and is sharing a room with a man who's had a very rough time of late. He's 48 years old, and when he was 40 it was discovered that he had arteriovenous malformation around his spine, which meant he had to quit his job and go on permanent disability. Then last year sometime, he got hit by a car and suffered a fractured back, fractured pelvis, two fractured legs, and numerous other injuries. He had just gotten out of rehab from that a month ago, and then just recently he suffered a stroke. He's divorced and has two daughters that live with his ex-wife. I'm not sure anyone will come to visit him.

So, in what appears to be a delayed list of things I should have given thanks for at Thanksgiving, I've been inundated with thoughts about things that make me feel pretty damn lucky. So, here's a few:

My parents-the people who raised me to be a sponge in the world. They led me down a path and taught me right from wrong. They also taught me how to think for myself, how to appreciate beautiful things, and that a little kindness goes a long way. I don't know that I'll ever be able to appreciate anyone else on the same level as my parents. I'm thankful to them for so many things, far too numerous to list here.
My sister-we've gotten closer in recent years, and I can honestly say that I value her as much as a friend as I do a sibling. If there's one person that I know I can talk to about anything, it's Ruth.
My friends-something that struck me tonight is that I have a diverse group of friends. I have different types of friends, and friends from places who, through simply knowing them, help me form a more worldy view. I love the fact that we have different opinions on some pretty hefty issues, yet we still like each other. The idea of surrounding myself with people who think exactly the way I do about everything scares me. That would mean that I had given up on the value of learning, and being able to see a different perspective.
Days and nights-What did I see today that was beautiful? During the day, I saw the sun reflecting on the water, and tonight I saw a nearly full moon in a crytal clear sky.

This whole diversity thing is what got this post going tonight. It was another thing that came to mind when thinking of my mom and dad. They break the stereotypes of a clergyman and his wife in so many ways. One example is that they've been trying to fix me up with one of my dad's doctors, who just so happens to be from Afghanistan. And while thinking of the individuals that comprise my own group of friends, I see my parents' influence there, too. There's my older friends, my younger friends, my married friends, my single friends, my atheist friends, my religious friends. my slightly neurotic friends, my boringly normal friends, my pot-smokers, my straight-edgers, my bike riders and my non-riders, and all sizes and colors. There's a lot of crossover in there, as well. Overall, it's a great lot.

Long and short...my dad always says that bad things are just crabgrass in the lawn of life. As long as you have more grass than crabgrass, then things are going ok.

Right now, I've got a pretty big lawn.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Horse walks into a bar. Bartender says "Why the long face?"

Have you ever noticed how often powerlines get in the way of a really nice photo opportunity?

I've had this thought running through my head since I was in Santa Cruz last. It's really been bugging me for a couple of reasons. One, ever since I first realized it, I've been noticing just how often they do ruin an otherwise great picture. And second...well just a minute ago I had another reason, but it seems to have gone away. Maybe I summarized them both with the first one.

Really though, they are all over the place, powerlines. I realize that they provide us with the juice for all of our modern domestic conveniences. This laptop I'm using is a perfect example of that. But they are sometimes a real pain in the tukhes, like when a big blizzard blows through and knocks your power out (like yesterday). Or, when they get in the way of what would otherwise be a nice picture that I'd like to take. Maybe I should just start taking pictures of things I see with interfering powerlines. I could make it a category on Flickr, or something.


I've seen my father in a hospital bed for 3 days now. Everyday, it seems harder and harder to see him like that. Sometimes, I feel like I can really get everyone through this. Other times, I feel completely helpless. Today, his tailbone was hurting him and making him toss and turn in the bed. He can't really turn on his side all the way. I wish I could give him mine for a little while, or at least I wish I could hold him up off of his. His right quad atrophied some and is making it very difficult to lift his right leg. The parts of him that aren't artificial in his knee are very stiff as a result. Bike riding has given me pretty strong quads. I'd like to lend him mine until his are stronger. He hasn't been able to take a shower since before his operation. I'd like to give him my morning shower, and make it a nice long one. Genetics gave me his sense of humor. I'd like to lend it back to him so that he'd be able to smile. He's tired and frustrated and weak. He wants to go home. He wants to be able to walk again. I really wish I could hang a bag of positive endorphins on his IV drip. And while I'm at it, I'd like to serve up a dose of Hang In There to my mom. She's a rock when she's with my dad, but she's tired of trying to keep his spirits up as well.

I know things could be a lot worse. I know that. I haven't seen my dad like this since the radiator cap on the car engine blew and gave him some bad burns when I was 7 or 8. I was too young to really understand his healing process then. I know that all of this will be worth it in the end, but getting everyone to believe that isn't as easy as I'd hoped it would be.

Take care of your knees, people.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

My Secret Life

I recently realized that I prefer crispy bacon now. I didn't always. When I was growing up, the Saturday ritual of pancakes and bacon would not be right if my request for bacon 'tough and chewy' wasn't fulfilled. My dad was an expert in custom bacon orders. It was always my mom who liked it nearly burnt. I haven't quite flip flopped that far, but I definitely like a little crunch in the munch. It got me thinking about other things that have changed as time has moved forward. I've also just started developing a taste for raw red onions on sandwiches. Just a few, mind...let's not get carried away. I've been giving some thought to getting a different sort of highlights in my hair. I've been working this 'almost blonde' thing for a while now, and I've caught myself toying with the idea of doing something a little more...dramatic. Like magenta, or some such.

I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on tv tonight. I really do like the Olympics. I think it's because it gives me some sense of hope that for these few weeks, everyone sets aside their differences to pursue a common gold. I could be glorifying things a great deal, but I've been to an Olympics. Four years ago, I went to Salt Lake to see the games. The air really is charged with loads of positive vibes at the Games. Of course, for a while I was dwelling on the fact that it's already been four flippin' years since I was hiking up to the top of the bobsled run. Four years ago, I was in the thick of my salad days in New York. Things were great, and I can still remember very clearly feelling out of place to a degree.

I'm trying to figure out where I actually belong. I feel like a bit of an alien when I'm in Boulder. New Jersey, although a place that will always be where I'm from, is not a place I can see myself being. It's weird enough coming to visit. My job puts me in front of people who I'm sure know more than I do. In the UK I'm still a foreigner, no matter how accepted I may wish to be. Even the Touareg is starting to agitate my back. I'd like to establish some roots of my own. I just need to figure out where those roots should be. I know where I want to be right now, but the Gods have asked that I be patient, for what I'm not entirely sure. I've had mostly good things happen in my life. Some that I hoped for, and others that were nice surprises. I'm afraid that this time, the one thing I really want won't happen because I do hope for it so much.

Four years ago, I had very different ideas about where I wanted to be. Like the bacon choice, it was a far cry from where my head is now. I'm wondering if all of this is some sort of tectonic shift in my life, or if I'm just making larger changes (I used to cringe at the idea of onions on a sandwhich) than normal. Obviously, my idea of 'large change' and er, the rest of the worlds idea are pretty far apart.

Still, I can't shake this eternal optimism I have. Funny that, since I tend to harbor such negative feelings about myself. I still think things are going to be ok.

'Course they could be pretty tough and chewy before then.