Kicking it Down the Road

Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?

-Confucious

Passing scenery is a metaphor for our lives streaming along the time continuum:  we’re constantly viewing the road ahead while contemplating what we’ve left in the past – and what we face in our present.  Our vehicular journeying leads us to pivotal moments of contemplation, our thoughts cascading like dominos.

It’s a beautiful summer morning.  Being a morning person, I give thanks for the season, the way the air smells this early in the morning and for bird song.  I glance about, pop my gear shift into reverse and realize there’s a father holding a small child in his arms too close to the rear of my car.  He’s slowly walking and is now glaring at me as I mouth, “Sorry!”  Did I mention all of me, myself and I were in the car?  So, of course, there begins a dialogue of “Why are you apologizing, he saw you get in the car – heard the engine running – he shouldn’t have been walking practically up against the car.”

The father continues to glare at me as I mouth another “Sorry!”  “Well,” the internal dialogue continues, “I’m not going to slit my wrists for something that didn’t happen, that I took accountability for and for which you also have some accountability.”  I glanced about again and backed out of my driveway, the young father still glaring back at me for what might have been – but wasn’t.

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I used to play skipping stones with my uncle at a pond near his house.  He’d also take my siblings and I in tow with his own brood along the dirt roads for a treat, joining in as we kicked a stone down the road.  As I grew older, I’d hear him say that a thought could get kicked down the road so that one thing leads to another; and it happened to me that morning. The young father’s animosity kept him in focus: He was of a different culture – He had a son in his arms which, perhaps, has given the child more value to him than if it had been female – I am, perhaps, a materialistic American who has a pricier car – I am female and, perhaps, I had been admonished for daring to possibly bring even the slight intimation of harm to him and his male child.

In my imaginings, I was no longer just a woman taking pleasure in my simple morning routine of fueling up for tomorrow’s Monday and getting my morning cuppa.  I was a nation of Americans – I was without a nation because I was a lowly female always meant to be at the service of – I was a lone individual in a world huge and violent, where the slightest of slights to someone’s ego could result in a glare resonant of a will to assault another.

Then I reasserted my wiser self, realizing I had momentarily been caught in fearful assumptions of another I know nothing about.  As I turned into the intersection, I took a deep breath.  I can only live my own life to the best of my ability.  By the time I turned back into my residential community, my thoughts were on all of us who do not will to harm another.  We who, around the world, live under religious, political and national identities that pull us into maelstroms of willful misunderstandings and power mongering.  In my smallness, I listen to the happy bird song, freely given.  As humanity has done throughout history, I tap into hope and courage and I smile.  A shadow follows me.

Destination: Otherwise

The silver lining to living on this planet is that we can always find Summer – and my calendar says it’s officially here.

This is a time when we take to our chariots, which faithfully transport us to familiar and foreign parts.  That seems to be what Summer is for — explorations of our outer world, leading us back to explorations of our inner one.  We’re looking beyond our Googlemaps hoping to find a route to our wise inner child: fun, relaxation, friends, naps and snacks.

Summer’s greatest legacy is the way it brings us together – with nature, with family, with friends.  And when SummerTravels Otherwise (2) marries with art, we’ve a recipe for “how to turn strangers into friends” from all corners of the world.

 

Recently, I went through an extended period of time when I was working long hours between two jobs.  Travels OtherwiseMy ability to move myself through life’s events was adequate – and I am really grateful for that; however, I was aware that others had traveled to a different place in their lives.  This meant they were able to choose destinations near and far but always with fun as the focus.  By the time I was finally able to afford to work one full-time job, I needed friends and loved ones to remind me that Summer is the dessert to the meat and potatoes of life.  Luckily, Summer is synonymous with change.

Packing joy intoTravels Otherwise Summer’s outings, we’re brought back to our sense of fun and daring! With events ranging from the music and flashing lights of Belgium’s Tomorrowland and Nevada’s Burning Man, to Japan’s world-renown spas, as well as soaring cliffs we’ve a need to climb, summer travels take us, not only physically to geographical points previously unexperienced, but on life’s most wonderful and soul-essential journeys via ‘Destination: Otherwise’.

With Summer allowing us life within his visage once more, I’d like to share with you, dear friend, one of my very favorite quotes from another who undertook journeys to free himself from a life too heavy with the stuff of meat and potatoes:

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote                

 

IT’S FATHER’S DAY!

                   Happy Father’s Day !       

          A very happy FATHER’S DAY to all our fathers worldwide ~

Father's Day No Video

Father's Day2

Lateralization

Lateralization of ar interior

Lateralization of brain function means that there are certain mental processes that are mainly specialized in either the left or the right hemisphere. For fluid physical and cognitive activity, we depend on the cooperation of both sides of our brain.  For fluidity in our driving lives, we likewise benefit from an implicit agreement of equitable give-and-take in our relationships because, where there’s room for more than a driver, our mode of transportation is also lateralized:  driver’s side and passenger’s side.  And, just as with the brain, which has specific functions located in the front or in the rear, there are front seats and back seats.

When a passenger, with whom are we following along?  Who are we entrusting with power?  To some extent, whenever we’re a passenger, we are at the mercy of someone else’s choices.  We don’t always acknowledge to ourselves that we’ve given over a portion of our power to someone else when we’re in the passenger seat, but it only takes that one time – like when it’s obvious the driver is not open to our input.  Our adrenaline revs in its output, which drives the point home:  no steering wheel, no power.  It can be an innocuous moment, such as teaching a newbie how to drive (Aaaagh! You’re going too fast!  Slow down or you’re going to hit them!).  You realize how impossible it is to get your own leg to the driver’s side and stomp down on the brake, forcing the nightmare to end. You could always open your passenger door and bail to save yourself, but the newbie – who might be a loved one – could suffer harm or inadvertently bring the law down upon you.  You shakily get out of the car after assuring the newbie “you did great”Lateralization ~ Wobbly Man

Then there’s the more serious side of passengerhood:  the driver isn’t taking you where you had mutually agreed to go (figuratively and literally).  Ominous music, called anxiety – maybe fear – is playing in your body.  Lateralization ~ Scared Woman

As drivers, when we take on passengers, who have we invited into a moment of our lives?  Whose company are we regularly keeping?  Even with the steering wheel firmly in our hands, are we too frequently acting as taxi (meeting other peoples’ agendas) and not making sure we’re meeting our own needs as well?giphy (1)

When you’ve a moment to self-reflect:  Is your destination one that is beneficial for you and/or your loved ones?  Is your driving a means of realizing a positive accomplishment or are you usually driving away from something or someone (driving as a means of avoidance or escapism)?

To assess aspects of your life, you don’t necessarily need a mirror – Just look over at your driveway.

 

*Fellow Travelers:  Just for fun, take a peek at this site  (if your brain went, “Whaaah?  So did mine.  No worries, ’cause it’s all in our minds.

 


 

It Was All in the Wave

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Ever call a friend to share?  Ever e-mail and use an emoticon to let someone you trust in on a momentously important something?  The earliest and most constant form of therapy was ever the good friend, the trusted family member.  It’s that hand holding yours in a hospital corridor while waiting to hear.  It’s the ages-old healing connection that occurs when sharing.

Only another human being can bring a person to the completion of a cycle of healing.  This is because, when sharing, we invite compassion.  When sharing, our connectedness in the moment births empathy.

Historically, story tellers (i.e., Mark Twain, Hans Christian Andersen), bards (song writers and musicians) and the compassionate amongst us have played the role of healers.  When we hear a song, we’re connecting with either the artist, the melody, the lyrics or everything all at once and our being releases or awakens an emotion (joy, sorrow, bittersweet acceptance).

Historically, banishment and isolation have been viewed as grievous punishments.  We aren’t meant to be alone in body, mind or in our hearts.  We are so connected, a faceless stranger can create a marked change for the better in our day.  When I slowed to make room for a pickup truck from a lane merging into mine (despite the rush hour and that traffic was bumper to bumper), a hand rose from the driver side’s window and waved from side to side in a gesture of ‘thank you.’  He shared an acknowledgement of our nonverbal connection- that I had acted on his behalf.

I don’t think we credit these small gestures for what they can mean in somebody’s day.  My hope is that this blog serves as that wave to you at the end of your day.

Signals

Signals

We are social creatures one and all. Contact with one another is a hard-wired condition of our well being. On the road, we use a myriad of signals: horn honks, brake taps, a flash of headlights. Signals give clues as to our intentions… but signals may mislead.

So, is the white F150 going to switch lanes or not? Unsure, I slow to make room. However, within mileage, it seemed a fair bet that the F150 was telling me not what the driver intended to do via the turn signal but what had already been done. Was the driver being deceptive? More likely, the driver didn’t have anyone in mind outside of whoever was in the cab.  Thoughtless self-absorption in motion. And, for the time it takes to finally be clear about what’s really happening, there’s uncertainty. I never knew what the driver looked like and likely was never even noted by the F150’s driver, but our interaction was real nonetheless.

Most often in our dealings with one another, when people send out conflicting signals, it’s because they’re not aware they’re doing so. There’s an unawareness of the bigger picture outside of themselves due to denial. Or they’re engaging in sheer childish willfulness. Like when you’re in a roundabout with two lanes and four exits, and the driver in the inner lane suddenly switches to the outer to make an exit, endangering others. When drivers are not keeping to the rules of an interaction, there’s anxiety. An understanding, a promise, is not being kept. It’s clear your welfare isn’t a consideration. But, if they are not acting to keep you safe, they’re not acting in their own best interest either. That fact rarely occurs to them.

The ability to safely reach one’s destination depends on knowing what another person is going to do or not do. We thrive on communication with one another but sometimes there’s a disconnect. If you are being endangered, the driver is also inflicting danger upon their own person. The disconnect is more often within the driver than a willful act against you.

Yield when it matters too much to the other.  Bless and let them go their way.  Give thanks you get to go yours, despite the disconnected drivers.