Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hitting things...Hard

So Hurricane Harvey landed on Houston with a terrible squelch, temporarily returning neighborhood after neighborhood to the swamp from whence they came. While this was going on I was home spending what seemed like an eternity with my paranoid schizophrenic 'refugee' barricaded in his room convinced that I was conspiring with persons unknown to...well, do unknown things to him. By the time he finally escaped my evil clutches (also known as 'when I drove him back to his homeless shelter when it became safe to do so') I was ready to hit something. Hard. Over and over again.

And Harvey obliged, wrecking something like 100,000 homes to one degree or another. Technically I only hit three of them, taking a crowbar to soggy walls and wrecked floors. It was quite cathartic. I did my hitting with friends from church. Like most everyone in Houston who wasn't a victim, we were doing what we could to help or if we couldn't really help, at least demonstrate that we gave a damn. The therapy I got from all the hitting was just an extra, probably not shared by very many others.

It was at my third house-hitting that I had a bit of an epiphany. There were two women there that I was friends with from church (or if not friends at least they never visibly blanched when I came their way). I could tell that this wasn't their usual line of work from their soft shoes that screamed 'nail wounds' and from the fact that during that entire day they didn't smash a single thing (they did the essential but IMHO less fun work of clearing up our smashing). But there they were, covered in dust and sweat, dodging flying boards and falling cabinets, the detritus of disaster. And inexplicably, there was joy - in doing hard work for people we would likely never see again for nothing but a thank you.



I noticed that their attitude was radically different than my schizophrenic friend's. Paranoid schizophrenia is a bit like cancer: it spreads in a person's mind until it consumes everything: every person is suspect, every event a portent, the whole world a threat. I realized that this is what terminal narcissism looks like....the total focus on self, so extreme that its victims can't even function. There is no joy there - nothing but terror and chaos. And I recognize that in my life: the times when I was most focused on myself were often miserable while when I chose (or was forced) to focus on things greater than myself and on others I was happier.

At this point you're probably thinking "that's what Jesus told us 2000 years ago, knucklehead", "Love your God with all your heart and soul and mind (aka: 'the Greater') and Love your neighbor as yourself' (aka 'the others')" and you would be right.

I think this overfocus on ourselves, this 'cultural narcissism' is what has been happening to all of us. We've become more and more focused on our private entertainments, on our own petty concerns and on our status as victims. And it is making us miserable.  Perhaps Harvey was sent to remind us of this central truth:

"Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will keep it."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Moments

Moments come and then they go.
We think they're true and full of hope.
Then we find they aren't meant to be.
And never were.

Faces come with hopeful gaze.
We place our hopes and dream of days.
But we don't really know them.
And never will.

We tell ourselves that it's fine.
There's always more wine.
But we know the bottle's near empty.
And there are no more.

So we search and hope and pray.
With voices that fade more each day.
And we learn our fate face by face.
Until there are no more.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Your mother

Your mother:
Suffered pain, sweat, blood, tears
Endured hopes, terrors, fears.
Wears scars inside and out.
Overcame bouts of longing and doubt.

She gave you your first gift.
The one from which all others flow.
She was your beginning.
The rock to which you clung.

You can't pay her back for all she's endured.
Only be grateful that she did endure.
And love her for that.
And much more besides.

I know these things for
I saw them with my own eyes
and heard them with my own ears.
And I am grateful too.

My mother

My mother:
Suffered pain, sweat, blood, tears
Endured hopes, terrors, fears.
Wears scars inside and out.
Overcame bouts of longing and doubt.

She gave me my first gift.
The one from which all others flow.
She was my beginning.
The rock to which I clung.

I can't pay her back for all she's endured.
Only be grateful that she did endure.
And love her for that.
And much more besides.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Birthday Elegy

We spend fifty years chasing, grasping, clawing.
Then we spend thirty - if we're lucky - forty if we're not,
Releasing those things for which we fought so hard.
If wise, we know to lay them down gracefully.
If not, we fight and rage but lay them down all the same.
For it's God's world and it's God's way.
We're all just players in his play.

So how have you found my playing thus far?
Have I said my lines and toed my marks well?
Will you stay and watch my show to the very end?
Or will you lose interest, shuffling out for brighter fare?
I will play the play so long as I have breath.
And the last thing I will lay down dear friend,
Is you.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Too sad to laugh

Sitting at a party, too sad to laugh
and too drunk to go home. 

Parties bring out the best in you,
they bring out your worst.

At a party i'm everyone's friend
And i'm no one's.

Everyone looks to see what you'll do
but you're waitin' for them too.

We're all looking for something,
it could be good or bad .

Don't matter to me,
so long as I can feel. Cause I'm....

...sitting at a party, too sad to laugh
and too drunk to go home. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Real Men Hunt Real Beasts


I would like to point out that shooting a Deer or an Elephant or a Blue Whale is pathetically easy. After all they're ginormous. A real hunting challenge is plugging a common Field Mouse at 100 paces. Particularly if it's a duel and the little nipper is firing back.  I've set out to hunt, kill and mount every single type of vermin that vex my property today. Mice, voles, crows, cockroaches, fire ants, you name it, I'm going to take them down and mount their heads on my wall.

That'll teach 'em to screw with me.