Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Popeye Got it Right

Maybe you have heard it to many times, (or maybe you have said it to someone,) "You are too..."
The next word might be one of the following:
Manly, feminine, mental, dumb, intellectual, feminine, masculine, girly, butch, fat, thin, sensitive, insensitive, negative, optimistic, pessimistic, shy, withdrawn, happy, not happy...
Or, it may be something else.
The point is someone is trying to judge another based upon their own opinion of what they consider "normal." People often like to put labels and categorize others and say what is normal, like they are the keepers of the yardstick of normalcy. Maybe they have had it done to them and have had their own individuality repressed and feel threatened by people not afraid to express their own uniqueness.
In reality, we are all as different as snowflakes or zebra stripes or fingerprints. As long as we are not hurting or oppressing others we should cherish that which makes us unique. We are entitled to having and expressing our own feelings and lifestyles as long as we are not hurting others.
Yes, as individuals we have a right to choose whom to spend time with, our friends, our lovers, our life partners. But, we do not have a right to judge others and/or chastise them for being themselves.
I have a male friend who got emotional and started to cry and another male friend told him to "man up!"
That just rubbed me the wrong way. People have a right to be sensitive no matter their gender.
When I think of this I think of Amelia Earhart who said, "Women must try to do things as men have tried." Amelia Earhart was controversial in her time. (Even I remember when some folks believed it was improper and not "normal" for women to work in men's professions.)
Most enlightened people today know that particular sexist attitude is incorrect. Yet, I have heard men who think of themselves as enlightened (and even women working in male dominated fields) complain of men whom they judge as not being masculine enough. Hey folks, even though it's different, it's the same thing. It's sexism folks.
Popeye got it right! Let people be themselves.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Life and Loss

Marie being given Easter candy on Easter - April 15, 1979.
This day is an anniversary. It’s an anniversary of a loss, the loss of a best friend; my friend Marie had an unexpected heart attack and died on this day in 2009. She was 55.

I know I am not alone in suffering loss, it is one of the things we all experience. Suffering, after all, is the first of the noble truths. All forms of life are impermanent and constantly changing, we constantly have to let go of that which we love. Loss is suffering. People pass from our lives in many ways. As universal as loss is, I also think all looses are unique. Like fingerprints; we all have fingers, but each fingerprint is unique.

My parent’s died in my 20’s, my first wife in my 30’s, my sister in my 40’s and Marie in my 50’s. Yet, I know folks who have had a lot worse. I know folks who lost children or who had their families decimated in war and the holocaust.

As I write this the Grateful Dead song, Ripple is playing on the stereo:

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

Loss, experiencing and dealing with loss, is a part of life. We all are wounded and some wounds never heal. That reality is common even if each loss, like each love, is unique. We all die; but love endures. The love that is in our hearts is eternal.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Compromise and Marriage

Compromise is the way adversaries come to mutual terms of understanding. In my opinion it is an adversarial process. When I here people say, "marriage is about compromise" it rankles me. Compromise, to me, is about competition. When you compromise you agree to find a balance of winning and losing. To me marriage is about cooperation, being on the same team. One person's problem is both people's problem. You don't compromise in a marriage. You build and work together. You are the team. Your goal in a marriage should be to both win, not to find a balance of winning and losing.
This process may involve compromise; but it's a win-win process - it's not what marriage is about.