Saturday, November 23, 2013

Walking on Life's Path

I don’t know it all.  And, I never will.  

But, in this journey of curiosity, inquiry, the anticipation of what may be around the corner, and the meeting of what I haven’t figured out yet, lies the excitement.  

And, yes, I might even be wrong about what I think I know.  I’m not perfect.  I’m not a master of much of what goes on in the world, or what I think I know to figure out a problem.  And, the more I work on the stuff that I think I’m pretty good at, even a master of, I keep finding out that there is more for me to learn, and even more problems and questions that come up, as I go about my tasks.  

The learning curve still have a pretty good slope to it, keeping my journey as a healthy form of exercise, on all levels.  

Often, being able to ask the question is often more important than thinking I have the answer.  I usually don’t have the answer, at least the right answer. Even if the answer was right a while ago, it has a good chance of not being right now, anyway.  And, “right” and “correct” are relative, anyway.

But, I have a lot of questions, and more than enough enigmas, quandaries, and paradoxes to keep me moving forward, looking for the answers.  Somedays, I just discover I have more questions.  

Simply having the questions is becoming increasingly comfortable.  I’m full of questions.  I keep finding more questions, and revising, rewriting the questions.  Questions give me structure, and give me direction.  

I’ve always needed direction.  I’ve been around long enough that I can see the cycles, the patterns of life, and society, and being able to navigate through it al, with some sense of purpose and structure.  I can get easily lost if I don’t have focus, and a path to try to follow.  

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are headed.” —Lao Tzu.

When I figure out I’m going in the wrong direction, I summon my courage, dust off my list of questions, and take a new path.  I “work my hard” and change directions, heading on a new path.  And, when I look back, I can see where I’ve stumbled, and where I’ve danced, and I usually figure out that my choices were good ones.  

I’m loaded with questions, and I’m on my path, my meandering path.  My job is to keep track of where I’m headed, and to not get so caught up in myself that I start thinking I know it all, that I have all the answers.  If I’m curious and not afraid to look at the compass once in a while, life keeps on being an exciting, and rewarding adventure.  

—Neal Lemery, 11/23/2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November Storm

Quiet now,
so quiet I can almost imagine 
the sheets of rain beating on the roof,
running down the windows, while I make tea
and feel its heat in my hands, the rest of me
buried under my blanket in my chair,
drying mouse hunter snoring in my lap.

The house will shake with yet another gust, 
the roar and whistling of wind streaking by
not long from its marathon above the ocean
from the tropics or Alaska, or wherever this storm was born.

The lights will flicker with the bigger gusts and maybe go out,
leaving us with the lone candle on the coffee table,
before I light Grandma’s “coal oil lamp” 
and get out the cribbage board.

Perhaps then we will make sandwiches by candlelight,
sipping the soup I’d made before the storm began,
and deal another hand, laughing and talking—
the storm slamming against the house,
garbage can lid and the last of the leaves
sailing by,
in the deep black of the soaking wet

Later on, under the added blanket, 
I will wake to a long gust, whistling around the house
yet more rain coming sideways, only
the lightning showing me the neighbor’s house, 
thunder joining the wind in chorus of the night long song.

After dawn, air still, rain down to a drizzle, 
the rumble of the furnace, and the refrigerator,
means I can make the coffee,
the cribbage board there on the table, ready for the next deal.

—Neal Lemery, 11/18/13

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Courageous Dilemma

We often think heroes are the folks somewhere else, the people on the front page or on the TV news, people who have done something amazing.  They’re the people meeting the President, getting a medal.

But, we have heroes here, right in my town. And, sometimes, I get to be a witness to some amazing acts of courage and determination to just do the right thing.

A friend of mine is facing a serious dilemma.  Their work, and their values and morals, and what is truly in their best interest are now at loggerheads.  Life isn’t working out the way they want it, and there’s a lot of conflict, a lot of strife.  

And, it’s becoming clear that the right thing to do is make some big changes, and to move on.  That means giving up some things that are near and dear to their heart.  Yet, they aren’t able to fully live their morals and values the way things are now.  
They are at the crossroads, and the road is muddy, and there are a lot of questions, and not as many answers.  

My friend has wrestled with all of this, and keeps coming back to thinking they need to live their morals and values, and be true to themselves, to honor their core values.  And, when they’ve looked at their dilemma in that way, the choices become clear, and the path ahead opens up, and they can move forward.

They’re unstuck, now, and they’ve figured it out.  Do the right thing, be true to their values, and find the courage to move ahead, to embrace change.  Once they’ve come around to living life according to their beliefs, the choices are a lot easier, a lot clearer.

This conflict hasn’t been easy.  There’s been a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of conversation over coffee with friends, a lot of wandering in the desert of uncertainty and doubt.  And, in that darkness, they’ve found their stars again, and they’ve refocused on their beliefs and morals.  Their compass has found True North again, and they are ready to make their move.

I’ve helped, just a bit, in that journey.  I’ve listened, and put my judging and second guessing to the side.  My role as friend in all this has been to listen, and to repeat back to them what they are saying, so they can hear their own words, their own values, through another voice.

My friend has figured it out.  I don’t need to decide for them, and I don’t need to analyze the dilemma through my own values and beliefs.  I just need to let them hear what they are saying, and let they say and hear their own advice, their own solution to their dilemmas.

I’d want that for me, when it’s my turn in the box of paradox, dilemma, and conflict.  Someone to hold up that mirror, and let me see myself for what I am, and for what I believe in, and want to achieve. We all need that person in our lives to give us permission to get out the compass, and find our True North.

My friend is moving on, taking steps now in the direction they’ve chosen, and feeling pretty happy about it.  They aren’t expecting to get a medal from the President, but they deserve one, for being courageous and for doing the right thing.

Neal Lemery   11/5/2013