Month: March, 2013

The Perfect Moment

The world can come together to give us a perfect moment. The moment may remind us of the gifts that we have; it may convince us of the beauty of mankind. The moment can renew  faith in ourselves.

I remember one such moment in Barcelona, March 2005. I was sitting with my family in a quiet square, drinking clara (lemonade and beer!), resting after hours of walking the Latin quarter. Behind me there was a street performer with a guitar. He was playing “Losing My Religion,” a favorite. I remember this as a perfect moment in my life. Here’s another:




My father would, on occasion, ask “What have you done today to justify your existence?”

How does a child answer that question?

“I played, Daddy. I had fun.” Or maybe, “I read a book and learned something about the world.”

My father was a tortured man. Did he seek to torture us in turn? Perhaps he was playing a game. Or he was simply trying to connect with his children in the only language and custom he knew.  Is this a question he inherited from—who?

On days when I sit around, reading, napping, not productive, the question haunts me.

Opposing Thoughts Again

Both things are true. Both things are true. Both things are true.”

The mantra of trying to understand—believe—that two ideas, seemingly in contradiction to one another—are both correct, true, real, at the same time.  It is a constant trial to wrap my head around it.

No wonder life feels so confusing to the young. If I struggle greatly, how can we expect them to understand? Do we teach them how to begin thinking about this? Did the philosophers ask this question?  Ah! or was there a time that was simpler and only one idea held the truth?

On Moral Courage–Part Two

A week ago a student came to ask me a question. He is applying for a summer program and they need his test scores, which are fairly low. Could he just leave them off? The implication was: “pretend like they don’t exist until I do better”

I thought to myself: this is my moment, small as it is.  I doubt there would be harm or lasting damage if I had told him it was okay; but I did not want to be the adult that made it okay for him to lie or be anything less than his moral best.

On Moral Courage–Part One

The headline this morning: “ Critics say Bergoglio failed to protect left-leaning priests against Argentine junta.”

A question I often ask myself is: how would I react in a situation that calls for moral courage?

My family owned slaves. Would I have had the depth to know this was wrong and the courage to do something about it? Would I?

I read in the paper and hear on the news about people who cheat to be rich or famous or respected. If I had the chance, would I do that? Would I plagiarize so I could be a respected writer?

My Choices

Aren’t all of us stuck with the choices we make?   — Lady Mary Crawley

Lady Mary was, perhaps, ruing her decision to marry Richard when she said those words. (Oh, it was so obvious!) Yet, it reminds me of something my daughter says on a regular basis: we all make decisions how to live our lives, all the time.

You aren’t too busy to do (enter activity here). You’ve chosen to do something else with your time.

You aren’t too broke to (enter activity here.) You’ve chosen to do something else with your money.

And that’s fine. Make a choice. But please stop saying, “I’m too…” because you aren’t really; you made a choice.

I’ll See You in My Dreams

 I have a grand dream life. Often my dreams are in Technicolor.  In them I can fly. I drive over wide mountain ranges. Sometimes I clean.

After Mom died Jeanne dreamed about her. I never did, but I yearned to. I wanted any way possible to have her with me again.  Then, David died and I would whisper to him as I fell asleep, “Please, come to me in a dream.” But he never came. Not even once.

I have a picture in my head of Mom and David in the clouds, sitting in rocking chairs, watching us down here.

On Writing

“The thing about being a writer is that you never have to ask, ‘Am I doing something that’s worthwhile?’ Because even if you fail at it, you know that it’s worth doing.”  Richard Ford

If no one reads my words but me, will that be enough? Jack, therapist extraordinaire, says, “The writer neglects her art at her own peril.” I did that for many years. Now I am finding great joy in writing again. Yet, I also have the desire to see my words in print. It feels shallow to admit that, but it is the truth.

This reminds me of my battle with weight: self-loathing vs. self-love. I want to love myself when chubby, but I never do. Can I love writing if a word is never published? I don’t know the answer.