Originally published September 12, 2014
NOTE: This post should’ve been published yesterday. In fact, I would’ve felt a whole lot better if I had published something — anything — on Wednesday. Obviously, “my process” could use some tweaking.
This is not going to be a fun post. For one thing, it’s 9/11 — 13 years after our country was attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists. I’ve been “down” for some time going into this day, for different reasons: not enough sun, and temps are falling; not sticking to my writing schedule; not saying “no” enough; sadness over a recent visit with my mother; and, “overthinking” and not acting on a variety of decisions that are now overwhelming me.
Last week, I was sure I would be writing about the U.S. education system, about what’s right and what’s wrong with it (although, when I first Googled for related articles, I Googled for “what’s wrong” then thought a couple days later I should probably present the other side … even tho’ I’m not feeling all that positive about it). This week, I’ve been stressing about “choices,” and I was pretty sure I would start this post with “I’m grateful I’m not the President of the United States” — a sincere reference to the “grateful movement” I’ve seen on Facebook. I think this will fall into my “Spiritual” category; I haven’t written such a post since January.
But, I didn’t write anything yesterday (I really should’ve started it on Monday), and today I’m feeling even heavier. Last night, after watching Obama deliver his decision about ISIL (or ISIS, or The Islamic State, or whatever “spin” these Sunni extremists want to put out about themselves), I decided I was going to get out of bed early today, wake up with a couple cups of coffee and the TV news, read articles I’d bookmarked for this post, then begin writing. But, I didn’t follow that plan, and I feel like shit … worse than I did yesterday, the day before that, and the day before that. You know what I mean.
To make matters worse, after criticizing the President for not having a strategy and reporting that a majority of Congress and the American people support taking action against ISIL (which is what Obama finally decided to do), the news media is now zeroing in on why his strategy will not work. …
Seriously?! I ask you, “What fresh hell is this?!”
(By the way, that is not a funny Sheldon Cooper — of “The Big Bang Theory” — quote; it’s one of writer Dorothy Parker‘s witticisms. Her actual words were “What fresh hell can this be?,” a question she supposedly asked when her train of thought was interrupted by the telephone or knock on the door. I, however, am truly alarmed (hence, the exclamation point), and I ask this question in all seriousness … akin to “WTF?!” Seriously! Give the man a break!!! I can’t say I’m comfortable with this decision; in fact, a couple months ago I wrote a post in support of a non-interventionist foreign policy. But, “it is what it is,” and the best I can do is stop griping (another worthwhile movement), pray for Obama, for all our leaders, our servicemen-and-women, their families, and for all the people in the Middle East who are unfairly caught up in this hellish situation. (Some would say I should pray for ISIL too, but — forgive me — I’m just not “there” yet.)
I feel looser and lighter now, probably because I’ve let go of what I can’t control and this has made it easier for me to focus on the important task in my miniature region of the world: “checking things off my list.” The saying “let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” just came to mind, so first things first … I will wrap this up as neatly as possible, considering all the strings I need to collect.
Why did I choose the Augusten Burroughs’ picture-quote for this post? Actually, when I first saw the quote on Facebook, his name was not attached; I Googled the quote and linked it up with the controversial author of Running with Scissors. A lot of people don’t like him, by the way. Oh well, we can’t please everybody, can we? That’s ultimately why I chose the quote … Because the decisions we make, and the steps (“the process”) we take to arrive at those decisions, are not perfect. But, if we can be authentic/honest and, most importantly, kind — especially if others are involved — (which is most of the time, considering the vast majority of us are not monks) then, I believe, we are following Spirit.
I have to tell you about a gem of a book: The Laws of Spirit: A Tale of Transformation by Dan Millman. Given to me for my 60th birthday by a dear, wise friend, this 120-page parable examines 12 core principles of our existence: among them, choice, process, compassion, integrity, action, and unity. Already into my second reading, I’m enjoying the deep-and-dark meditation this kind of book conjures (I’m an English major and wired for it). Literally and figuratively, I believe there are lights at the end of the many tunnels (paths) we travel. Entering those tunnels is the choice/risk we take; navigating through them is the process. Sometimes it’s “a breeze.” Sometimes, it’s maze-like.
I felt like I was being smacked upside the head when I first read “The Law of Process” chapter. For one thing, I’ve been hearing “process” frequently as it relates to a new opportunity. I’m impulsive and tend to rush enthusiastically into many situations … not pausing to think what it will require of me, in terms of time, expertise and lasting effort. The sage in the book says, “Lasting progress doesn’t happen in a few dramatic moments, but hour by hour, day by day. And as time passes, every process includes repairs: The road to happiness is always under construction. … When discipline and patience join forces, they become a persistence that endures past the peaks and valleys … Enthusiasm sets the pace, but persistence reaches the goal.” Oh my … This is not going to be easy for someone with ADD, but I do love me a good challenge.
One last thing: I continue to think about the tragedy of 9/11 and its aftermath, including our country’s latest strategy, and I don’t have anything constructive to say about it. Instead, I want to end with this quote by Catholic priest Henri Nouwen:
‘Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love?’ These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will be many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
* Art: PictureQuotes.com