stitchwhich: (Lego Viking Woman)
I have a difficult time with the concept. Or at least, with defining the point at which a slippery slope becomes an insulting one. Perhaps this is because of my faith-path, in that there is a strong tenet of 'if that is what creates a relationship between you and Divinity, then it is a valid thing for you to do/use'. 'Valid' being a not-very-exact word for what I mean.

I have no difficulty understanding that there is an ignorant offensiveness about sexpot 'Indian Maiden' Halloween costumes or the team name "Washington Redskins". Where I bog down is at things I consider to be extremes but are apparently not; practicing yoga if one is not from India, dreadlocks when one is not a native of the Caribbean, hanging a dream-catcher in one's bedroom when one is not of the Ojibwe/Ojibwa (Chippewa) tribe.

I grew up celebrating the American ideal of the 'melting pot', the concept that each culture which contributed to the mass which is the population of the USA had aspects to be respected, valued, and incorporated into an American lifestyle as desired, that in this way we as a population were strengthened and drawn together rather than held separated and small in our collective identity. That does not seem to be a valued view any longer. And I, as a child of an older cultural generation, am saddened as well as confused, because now I do not know where I may give offense rather than inspire camaraderie. If I say, "te nada" to an individual who thanks me in Spanish, am I being offensive because I am not Hispanic? (You may snort but in a facebook conversation that was exactly an example which was given.) If I have, as I do, a statue of Quan Yin on my altar because that is the aspect of the Goddess who most inspires and speaks to me and through which I channel my dialogue with the Lady, am I an insensitive cultural thief?

Once I had a neurosurgeon who was Brahmin. He'd grown up in his native land but came to the US later and trained in medicine here,then got a cmmission in the Navy. I, reading his diplomas on the wall, caught on immediately to his cultural background because of his full name, so was not surprised when he addressed his statements and questions to my husband and rarely looked me in the face. After my surgery, however, my ward nurses were appalled by his 'rudeness'. I'd been placed in a ward which was not the neurosurgical recovery ward else I think there would have been no problem as the staff there were probably already used to his behaviour. But the staff in the Women's Surgical ward were indignant on my behalf and astonished when I explained that to the contrary, he was showing me courtesy by not looking me in the face, as he was treating me as a respectable woman would have been treated in his own culture. (This is likely because I had asked him, upon our first meeting, if he was Hindu.)

I wonder nowadays which of us would be considered the rude person - him for treating me with his cultural-based respect, or me for not demanding that he behave as we'd consider the American Medical Norm?
stitchwhich: (Cindy-girl)
We knew when we had to have Humility put to sleep (old age) last July that we'd not consider getting another pet until after we'd returned from Pennsic. But since our return we've just not put any kind of energy into even looking. The house still seems full of her presence and there is not a gaping sense of 'empty' such as we'd had in the past once a beloved pet had passed on. Instead we are feeling comfortably content without having to do upkeep chores associated with ownership.

It seems as though we should be concerned about this. It is quite unusual for us to have an empty home and be comfortable in it. Whenever we talk about it though, we both agree that it just isn't time. As lifelong pet owners we know that when it is 'time', our new friend will somehow show up.

But there are still moments like right now when I look through adoption webpages and wonder why I don't feel any desire to even meet the dog in the picture.

Waiting Is.
stitchwhich: (Waiting)
Two weekends ago I drove for five hours to attend an SCA event called "Atlantian University" - a daylong classroom event with (usually) 8-12 classrooms set up to host 1-2 hour classes about medievally-related subjects throughout the day. As well as sundry "how to do your SCA job" ones thrown in along the way. (The five hours back was much harder on me than I expected. Perhaps 'ten-hour daytrip drives' are not as much of a good idea as they were when I was younger.)

One of my Apprentices rode with me as well as my oldest BFE (Best Friend Ever), who kept the conversation going by asking the occasional off-beat question. One she asked my Apprentice was, "Where do you see yourself five years from now?" and it hit me pretty hard - harder than it did the respondent.

I haven't been thinking about "The Future" for a very long time. Not in any useful manner, at any rate. To tell the truth, I've never expected to actually reach 'the future', old age, in any case. My health never lent itself to the making of plans or of envisioning such a thing as a real possibility I'd have to deal with in my life.

The question has caused me to look at our home, our hobby, and our finances in a new light. For example, I'd been haphazardly clearing out this and that for the last couple of years after seeing what my adult friends had to deal with when their parents passed on and thinking about what it would be like for our children to have to pack up/clear out our home once we did too - but now, well now I'm looking at it and thinking more along the lines of "what will it be like to have to live with this stuff for the rest of a long old age? Do I want to? Do I even look at most of this anymore? Use much of it any more? Do I want to settle for this item or that one instead of reaching for something which would light up my (or Bossman's) eyes when I saw it every day? And what about when we, as some of our friends have, hit the "we're not going SCA camping any longer, nor schlepping all that medieval furniture around" stage? In all honestly, that isn't too far off - I can't see us being willing to do so in, say, five or six years. Not at the level that we currently do. By Pennsic 50 Bossman will be 69 and I'll 64... loading the truck full of wooden furniture for a two week long vacation just doesn't seem all that inspiring in that future.

It's very odd. I have never - ever - needed to consider my own 'old age'. I trained myself out of that sort of daydreaming when I was a teenager and was diagnosed with my heart condition and its limitations. After it failed and was magically corrected, multiple surgeries kept me focused on the 'now', and then my cancer struck. And four years later while I was still under treatment his did. Again, the 'now', the 'let's get through this' mode was predominate.

And now I have a real future with no plans and no goals. It is rather intimidating but exciting all blended together.
stitchwhich: (Lego Viking Woman)
...I hate them. And by that I mean when someone says 'the gallant thing' to me, thinking to please me, what I get from that is "you are either blind or a liar".

I am not young. That's a good thing - I long ago did the die-on-the-table thing (twice) and every breath since then has been a triumph over death. My age is no secret, nor is it something to be ashamed of - that is one of the weirdest concepts I've run across I sometimes think. I turn 59 at the end of November. I like my birthday - I bless each year I've lived since the last one and want to celebrate being with, and caring for, my family and friends. The number of years is rather immaterial. And the date kinda irks me since the US changed Thanksgiving from "last Thursday of the month" to "fourth Thursday" because now I never get to have my birthday on Turkey day.

I am about 120-150 pounds overweight. That means I have a big roly-poly body and I'm old enough to have those women's hanging skin flaps on my upper arms. I am taller than most of the men I know and often feel behemoth beside them. I wear trifocals that make my eyes look strangely enlarged and also smaller, all at the same time. I never wear makeup. I do not dye my hair. The grey is just starting to come in and I am rather excited about that, thankyewverymuch. Raising my sons - I earned that grey years ago and it is overdue. (You raise a fire juggler/sword swallower or a kid with no awareness of mortality and see if you don't deserve a few lines & grey hairs!) Standard jewelry is currently my wedding band and will someday, when I'm close enough to a decent weight, be expanded to re-include my Wiccan dedication ring after I can get it cut down and repaired. Earring holes closed up many surgeries ago - which procedures also mean that my body, which only one person is ever allowed to see nekkid, is covered in scars front and back. Even at the knees, thanks to an angry young man with a strong throwing arm and a few sharp rocks. The most attractive feature I can claim are my eyes - I got my maternal Grandfather's "Black Welsh" eyes and when I'm happy they sparkle. Or so I'm told.

So - "you are always young and beautiful" just ticks me off. As compliments go, I know it is a standard line for 'any woman', but honestly, if a person actually wanted to make me feel good about my physical self one day/time, "That color of shirt (gown, dress) really brings out the glow of your skin/the color of your eyes" would be a good one. Or "I notice that since your weight loss has started, you are moving with more of your old grace - it is lovely to see." would be a nice one too. But best of all are the ones along the lines of, "you make me feel happy because ____ ." Those work every time. Trotting out the same ole-same ole compliment one would give their grandmother just leaves me cold and a little enraged. I have a mirror. I know what I look like. I strive for "neat and clean" and hope that I mostly greet people with a smile. That, my friends, is what is attractive - one's joy at seeing someone else. One's physical envelope? Eh.

"Always young" "never aging" "so attractive" and worst of all, "sexy" - those will reduce my esteem for the speaker by a wide margin*.



*Exceptions are given for Thems Who Have Been Long-time Flirts. They (you) know who you are.
stitchwhich: (Lego Viking Woman)
According to Wikipedia (hush, I thought their article was well-written),
"Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship)."

I have been thinking about 'forgiveness' and myself a great deal lately. Looking around me in a social context, there is a significant (or at least to me it seems significant) number of people who I am around often but who I would not choose to be near outside of the social event simply because at one time or another they've betrayed my trust or caused harm to me or mine. But this means that as I continue in my favorite hobby and the years travel on by, that small number of people grows a little larger. Yes, some of those people do gafiate away but others may gain a greater prominence within the group. And I've noticed myself growing - sour, shall I say - at some events watching those I once knew as friends enjoy themselves with others who are still friends, all while I hold myself aside...

So I question myself about my 'forgiving' of whatever it was that caused our break. In all but one case, I've long ago brought myself to understand and forgive their actions, as I know that everything is justified in the eyes of the actor and their views will not be the same as mine. I've tried to see things through their eyes. But yet, the hurt is still there, especially since I am well aware that they will never acknowledge, nor apologise, for their actions. History has been rewritten and that is solid in their worldviews. Yet I miss some of them. And they still seem to want to have me involved in their world. But yet again - there can be no going back to what we once had. Not for me. Because I know myself well enough to know that without reconciliation of our past, I will never trust them again.

So have I actually 'forgiven' them? If I cannot bring myself to the point of clearing the board of all negatively (and isn't "I care for you, want you to be happy in your world, but will never trust you with anything important to me' negative?), then have I actually succeeded in forgiving?

I have no real pain when I'm not near any of these people but I do feel sadness and sometimes heartache when I am around them.

The Wikipedia article goes on to say,
"As a psychological concept and virtue, the benefits of forgiveness have been explored in religious thought, the social sciences and medicine. Forgiveness may be considered simply in terms of the person who forgives including forgiving themselves, in terms of the person forgiven or in terms of the relationship between the forgiver and the person forgiven. In most contexts, forgiveness is granted without any expectation of restorative justice, and without any response on the part of the offender (for example, one may forgive a person who is incommunicado or dead). In practical terms, it may be necessary for the offender to offer some form of acknowledgment, an apology, or even just ask for forgiveness, in order for the wronged person to believe himself able to forgive."

I thought I was a loving and forgiving kind of person but I don't think I truly am.
stitchwhich: (HordePeer)
I'm stepping down from my most recent SCA job in September(ish - I promised to help my successor with the Pennsic letter first) and I'm mulling over what to take on next. I had thought I'd be putting in for the Kingdom Herald job but have learned that the current one has forgotten our years of conversations about my interest and she's grooming her new drop-dead for the position. I'm not really interested in bucking the tide, as it were, and the new guy deserves a chance at a kingdom job rather than having an old fart challenge him for it (he is basically unknown to most of the kingdom) but I have come to realize that I enjoy working in this field and don't want to just go back to being, at most, a baronial herald. I think I could contribute more to the College than just that. I could work on being a commenter "at large" - I haven't had a great deal of practice in conflict-checking and that would be a good way to learn it - but that seems, at the same time a rather lame thing to "move onto". The thing is, I don't really know where there is need as I'd been so focused on the kingdom job as the natural next step that I haven't been paying attention to what is needed elsewhere. That's what I get for becoming complacent, isn't it? All that talk about forming policies and backing up hers with mine... stupid me. I feel a tad silly about it. (Along with a tad hurt and disappointed, too, but as an admin-person, I cannot see the harm in giving a new person a chance to take on a position and becoming, perhaps in time, more recognized through their work. It just hurt a bit that I had to find out about the about-face via a third party.)

Then again, I could spend some time actually doing the (set aside) research in Viking-era lifestyles - cooking and clothing - that I've not been able to get to. That would most likely mean that I'll be distracted away from heraldry though, and I'm balking at the thought. And I haven't done much embroidery in years. I miss that. Of course, all of that is going to be more possible when I'm not holding down a job requiring quite so much keyboard time.

I don't know. I have a few month to figure it out. The question keeps rearing its head in my leisure moments now that I've learned that I don't have the support for the 'next' job that I thought I did. It leaves me at loose ends, a bit, but at the same time it frees me for other things if I could just figure out what I want to concentrate on. And at last, I'll be doing this with my brain back! Three years of mental cloudiness will be behind me. I need a new challenge.

I'm on slate for a couple of years of more involvement with Pennsic staff. That is going to be fun but it only takes a few months of a year for that... I need to look around and see where the need is and if I can fill it.
stitchwhich: (Autumn)
I want to post something better than 'health update, blah, blah, blah..." so I have a question - more religiously bent than morbid, actually. What do you think happens to 'you' when your body dies? What do you, personally, think will occur? Will your soul go elsewhere? Snuff out? What?

I have my own theory, of course, but I'm curious about other people's beliefs. We just saw a news piece about someone dying and their relative said, "They are with God now." but they didn't seem all that happy about it (I know, they are grieving) and that made me wonder - death is celebrated in some few countries but most mourn loss. Yet when I think about 'afterwards' I am filled with anticipation and curiosity for what I will experience. It isn't something I dread. So I wonder if we view our personal death in a vastly different way than we do the death of someone we care about.
stitchwhich: (Autumn)
'tis the time of Scanziety... my CAT scan was yesterday but I won't learn its results until Thursday of next week. It is odd, what that uncertainty will engender. It has become usual for me to have dreams that play out the worst of the 'what if' scenarios - probably a cynical holdover of the "don't get too complacent" lesson we learn growing up.

So I decided to ride this one out and actually roll with it. What if I was out of remission? What would I do? I guess first I'd want to learn what the probable prognosis was - how long, approximately, would I have? And following that... do I, or don't I, tell anyone. I know - that sounds weird, "Of course you'd tell" you may be thinking. After all, there is my husband and my sons to think about. But the truth is I don't know if I would tell them or not. Not at first. I think probably not. The thing about being me is that I've been the comforter in our family, very rarely the comforted. I would want to give myself time to absorb the news and to process it. And then I'd have to think about how best to break it to my spouse. He has always believed, since we met each other, that he would die before me. It is a comfort to him and anything other than that would be a betrayal by the Universe on a scale I cannot even imagine. No. I'm not kidding. His normal reaction to anything dire happening to me (or threatening me) is complete and absolute - total - denial. It isn't going to happen, I'm being a scardy-cat or hysterical, this is the stupidest thing ever since it isn't based on reality... on and on. I just can't see myself arguing with him about my own mortality. It would waste most of whatever time I'd have left. Sure, he'd end up convinced in the end but why destroy the (however brief) months of good times that I'd have?

And following that would be "do we tell other folks right off the bat or wait until I become house/bed-bound?" I think I'd like to tell folks relatively early, so they'd understand why I was backing out of jobs I have and not volunteering for others, but I don't know. People get weird when they have to face mortality.

And then there's that 'bucket list' that so many people have suddenly started to focus on.

I don't have one.

Never really thought about one - there are too many things I'd "like" to do to narrow it down to a numbered list, and most of those are just daydream material, not things I'd seriously want to devote myself to doing. I've already been living what would be the top numbers on that list. I've had children. I've lived to raise them and they love me. I'm in a hobby group that stretches my creativity, my skills at research, and my desire to serve. I have a faith that is fulfilling and basic.

There isn't much more beyond that besides 'the trimmings'. Anything else would just be flourishes on the things I already have.

I would, though, make a point of clearing out my junk from our home. Even the Legos. Because as much as I know my family says they'd cherish this or that, the truth is that none of them really treasures that stuff for itself but rather for the fact that I love the stuff. So sorting out the dross and saving a few specific items to pass on seems wiser. And as far as Legos go - selling those would bring in funds to buy the newest sets, which I could build and enjoy and then sell again. It would be a case of diminishing return, but hey - it'd only have to last for a little while.

I'd have to start teaching my husband how I handle the bills and our accounts. In his family, it is the woman's job, not the man's. Except for taxes, strangely. Our sons have the recipes for all of the dishes they loved growing up. I don't have copies of them here - but that would be okay since Bossman rarely eats anything I've home-cooked anyway. He's grown into a sandwich-and-chips kind of dinner eater.

Other than making final arrangements (because I know Mr. Denial would freeze solid if he had to face that), I think that covers everything I'd be concerned about. What about you? Have you ever thought about what you'd do, what you'd need to take care of, should you have a life-deadline?
stitchwhich: (Lego Viking Woman)
Posting to remember it because boy, does it apply to me.

Lord Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody: helpful but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains.
They are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years by.
I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint some of them so hard to live with, but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people.
And, give me 0 Lord the grace to tell them so.
stitchwhich: (Lego Viking Woman)
I wrote that title because I've been thinking about the turn my health has taken and trying to dwell a bit on what purpose that change has. I firmly believe that we live to learn, to experience, and to better ourselves by our experiences.

”here's my thoughts, including a bit of introduction” )
stitchwhich: (Fear the Penguins)
For a few years I've been actively intrigued by "tiny homes", starting with the Tumbleweed models and moving on through the various styles that have been designed since those were introduced. I've always thought of living in a wee house when I got 'older', someplace just large enough for one or two people, easy to keep clean, and somewhat storybook-like... "grandma's cottage", if you will.

I hadn't expected the idea to catch fire but I'm glad it has. Cruising the web looking at models of them is fun. And the advent of e-readers and Blueray interface between computer & TV have made the concept even more appealing as our relaxation needs are met by minaturized support equipment. Who would have guessed in the 60s that televisions could hang on a wall like a portrait? Or that telephones would not only fit in your pants pocket, but would also hold all of your favorite music, show movies, and hold your library too?

As we've gotten further along in our hobby-play, my need for a sewing machine and all of the vast array of designer equipment has nearly disappeared. Yeah, I do still sometimes use my machine but most of what I make is handsewn. I don't need a serger, a buttonhole maker, a pleating machine, or even a quilting stand (I generally make tied quilts, which can be done by laying them on bed or floor to pin, then sewn draped over a table.) So my need for storage space has lessened. Not being a clotheshorse, I use less of a closet, or a chest of drawers, than Bossman does. Again - not bad for someone who'd love to live in a tiny house someday.

But my downfall is in 'stuff'. Memento-stuff. Today I am cleaning out a hope chest stocked with things given to me over the years from SCA friends that I had no need for but also no desire to give away to someone else. And some of it (like the cowbell in there !?!) would never be good as gifts anyway. The chest has been ignored, for the most part, and is nearly empty. And yet in another room we have a pile of blankets that we use for camping and winter-time, with no place to store them except on top of whatever is sitting 'out' on the craft room floor. Today, the chest will be meeting the blankets and a merger will be formed. And the assorted bits of 'someday I may fit them' clothing and the little pile of datebooks I've kept in the bottom drawer of my chest of drawers are going to find their way to a Goodwill box. Because really? What is my purpose in keeping that stuff?

Because if, someday, we ever DO decide that the ideal retirement plan is a tiny house, I want to be ready for it.

So that means that my photo albums are going to be dismantled and the photos scanned for digital storage. And the dishes in the kitchen and craft room (SCA ware) - They too shall be merged. Why on earth do we have two sets of dedicated dishes and silverware? That is just silly. Why not use the ones that we bought because I love them all the time instead of only on weekends? Frankly, I'm tired of the Pfaltzgraff pattern we've had for the last 25 years. And we sure don't need enough to set a table for 12! So why not merge the 'feastgear' and the 'regular dishes'? I think it'd make a very ecletic table setting, and a fun one, too.
stitchwhich: (taking note)
After two solid days of massive headache*, I finally forced myself to go shopping for food. "Try caffiene" people said, "It helps with headaches." I was out of caffiene. Or, at least, out of Diet Pepsi. So to the local grocery I drove, grumpy and squinting. And while I was there, all the clerks were wearing T-shirts supporting a local fund raiser drive for cancer research.

Under the circumstances, you'd think that I'd be grateful and cheered to see such a thing. But honestly - I'm tired of having cancer, cancer, cancer shoved up my nose. My head tells me that it's a phase and I'll get over it, adding all the other things I'd tell someone who was feeling the same way, but that inner voice merely helps me to keep my grumpy mouth shut in face of such charity and kindness.

You know what I'd like to see, what I'd try to organise if I had a tad more energy and drive? "Carnival for Cancer". Okay, not a catchy title. But I'd like to see a bunch of organisations/groups gather together for, say, a long weekend or two weekends in a row, with a carnival. Ferris wheels, dart tosses, all the things we enjoy doing in the summer. Have other organisations donate prizes for the best activity, and give the carnival-goers (whose tickets would contribute towards the fundraising) tokens to leave at each 'booth' so the most popular ones win the prizes.

That - a weekend of fun - is what I'd like to see someday. Not a marathon, just a day when average people can come and have fun, knowing that they were helping someone at the same time. I wish I had the gumption to try to sell it in my area but my spoons, as it were, are in a depleted state.

*It has reduced itself to one area of my head and is mostly-ignorable now - and boy am I caught up on sleep!

HEY!

Mar. 11th, 2011 07:12 pm
stitchwhich: (Default)
I am NOT planning on checking out anytime soon. I am, however, coming to terms with the possibility since it is so large in my window.

Someone asked about:

Grandkids: Nope. Neither son is anywhere near marriage or 'serious enough to start a family', although they both would like to 'someday'. I've believed for quite a while that I will only be a story to my grandkids. While they play with my legos. :)

Abuse/Rape center: My PTSD was badly exerbated by my time as a volunteer there. So I took the therapist's advice and resigned.

Does one have to be doing something for others, or making a "substantial difference" for some minimum number of people to be something of worth? No. But my standards for myself say that *I* must. I firmly believe that we are here to learn to strive for personal perfection, and to help further the world... that I am barely doing anything of the sort at this time is a personal failure. Other people don't share the same belief - I don't expect them to view things the same way and have the same drive.

-----
On the whole, while I have experienced things that I would never wish on anyone, innocent or not, my life has been full of joy. My husband and my sons, my partners through the years, the people I have loved - there are far more smiles in my past than tears. Whether or not my next go-around will feature the same sort of challenges as this one, well... I don't know. How could I? Those challenges made me into who I am and for the most part, I am not ashamed of me. I would like a little more time to polish up the 'me' and file off some rough spots. There's still so much to learn.

I fully expect that once we have an idea of what kind of treatment regime I'll be on, I will be looking for some way to be useful again. I hate to say it, but my enjoyment of serving in the SCA has dimmed, and I am quite willing to let the young start doing all the hard work while I watch and applaud. And lend a hand, off and on. But while it is satisfying to help my friends learn and have fun, I have a need to do something that benefits others in the greater community.

My friends

Oct. 20th, 2010 01:16 am
stitchwhich: (taking note)
It came to me, a little over two weeks ago, that I really love the place I am at with my circle of friends. The circle is rather small. A year ago, I regretted that, thinking that I was missing out on something and feeling a bit alone as I heard about people doing this or that together. Now, I've grown enough to know I'm not missing out on anything I value. I have just the right blend of companionship and solitude, and best - a group of people I truly admire.

Who are my friends, you ask?

They are the people who, if I should have to say, "May I speak with you? It really hurt me when you...." react with appalled shock and rush to say, "I'm sorry" and "Can I do anything to fix it?" and "I didn't mean for THAT to happen!" They will explain what they were thinking, what was going on around them, and sometimes even say "I was just in a horrible place emotionally and you got in the way of my swinging arm. I'm so sorry" - because they trust me to love, understand, and forgive them.

And I do.
And they do the same for me when I mess up and hurt them.

My friends have integrity. When something comes up, I know that they will respond with kindness and honesty. They have no need to lie to themselves or surround themselves with hyped-up drama renditions of their lives - because their lives, while stressful, are also full of love and appreciation for the large and small things that fulfill them.

My friends help me be a better person than I am. Better than I was yesterday, a month ago, a year ago - and what draws me to them is their own shining desire to grow better themselves. I realised, a couple of weeks ago, that my friends all heed the duty-call of introspection and are not easy on themselves when they perceive failure. Yet they forgive that failure in others.

My friends commit themselves to The Greater Good - in their lives, in their hobbies, in their voting choices. They give, consistently, to others. They volunteer for work that is not shiny and eye-catching but needs to be done... and they get it done, without drama, without excuses for dropped responsibilities, without the need for constant applause. They don't shirk a job and then lay the blame on others.

They accept responsibility for their decisions and actions. Heck, all of them take responsibility for things that aren't their own - because they care enough to rue any lessening of their world around them and can't suppress the desire to make things better. Even when they already have more burdens to carry than they should bear.

My friends are the people who I have to bargain with to let me do something for them, instead of letting them do something for me. And so we help each other to give in graciously.

They talk to me about each other and about others of our acquaintance. Because they are always trying to find a way to smooth a path, ease a pain, help someone up, heal from a hurt inflicted by another. That sometimes means talking about things in a way that others may interpret as 'gossip' - but gossip doesn't ease a person towards finding acceptance and support for an individual who has put one off, or someone whose character one cannot trust but must deal with constantly anyway... my friends care about the people around them, even those who are not within their circle of friendship or who are swimming in a swamp of toxic behaviours. And when we do slide into the path of gossipy crochets, I can count on them to pull us all back out, or assist me to do so if I notice it first. And we smile, and relax, and we all are relieved. Because my friends are great-hearted.

My friends are not perfect. Neither am I. But together, we sometimes find moments of perfection. Of laughter, joy, fulfillment, love. Without needing to stand on another person to get it, without cruelty, crudity or leering sexual sliminess.

I really value my friends.
stitchwhich: (Default)
So I'm noodling... thinking. And what I'm thinking of will seem morbid to some - if you're one, just stop reading. I'm trying to figure out humanisms. (That would be my new word for 'actions that define humans' or something like that.) See, what I was trying to come to grips with is how it is that we can so easily determine paths of action for ourselves and at the same time, absolutely forbid them to anyone else.

For instance, suicide. I believe I have the right to say, "I'm done with this game." To be self-determined (excluding those things mighty enough to step in and determine for me - like a plane crashing through my house or something). I would never, ever, deny someone the right to end their misery and suffering... yet I am surrounded by those who seem to think that no matter how poor someone's quality of life is, they are obligated to squeeze out as many minutes of horrendous pain as they can because to do less is to *harm someone else*. You know - 'you are obligated to stay alive, no matter what, because I can't deal with you being not-here'. I find those who condemn suicides to be very, very selfish. Understandably so, yes, but regrettable, all the same, that they can't view the one gone on as someone who needed compassion and understanding - before and after that act.

Take cancer. Should I, in some day, contract cancer, I know that one of the things I will be debating with myself is whether or not I am willing to fight it. That is merely one facet in what would be a huge decision process, yet it is a very important decision I would have to make before making any other. So imagine my surprise, when talking about it with my mom's family, to find that I am not allowed to not fight it. Oh, no. I must 'never give up, never lay down, never surrender'. Why? Because they say so. Because I belong, somehow, to them and they have veto power over my body. And if they should get cancer? Well - it's 'different for them'. "They don't want to cause the family harm by dragging things out..."
See what I mean? How is it that we so easily do that? Put our our wants ("I don't want to lose you") over the needs and desires of others while still deciding in our own minds to take the steps we forbid to others? We can look down a long weary road of pain and dependence and say, "never for me" while denying that to those we care about.

All I can come up with is 'fear'. Fear of being left behind, of being alone, of losing a connection we cherish. And maybe that's why I'm so weird. Because death seems so - adventurous. (Yeah, I know, that sounds really bizarre). Nah, you can't come back and tell anyone here what's on the other side, but come on, folks - there's *another side*. All new. All different. No matter which faith path you follow, there's something 'over there' to look forward to, something different and exciting to experience. And your connection to others doesn't really go away - you just lose immediate chatting capability. As it were. :)
I envy the ones who already know what's there. Only a little, though - I'm still liking 'here' too much to want to go adventuring.

Okay, so this isn't all that coherent. I warned ya that I was in a weird frame. I just, I just spent too much of the last few days watching people deal with fear, depression, illness and death, and it got me to thinking about how very odd humans can be.
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