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Tag Archives: Love

What the World Needs Now

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No, not just for some but for everyone

As it says over on the right side of my blog …
 
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
Put it differently …
 
Astronauts, when they first see the Earth from space, tend to share a complicated, but common, reaction: a sense of wonder. Mixed with a sense of peace. Mixed with a sense of appreciation of all that we share by virtue of sharing a planet.
 
That quote is from a piece that appeared at theatlantic.com.  The piece includes a photo taken from the International Space Station as it orbited above Israel and the Gaza Strip.  The astronauts can see flashes of light signifying the explosions.  The astronaut who took the picture described it as “the saddest picture yet.”  Maybe what the world needs is a different perspective.
 
What the world needs is a Martin Luther King, Jr., moment.  What the Middle East needs is somebody who can and will rise above the hate and the history and stop pointing fingers and preach the value of love.  Of forgiveness.  It seems to have been lost in so many ways in the conflicts raging throughout the Middle East.  Problem is there doesn’t appear to be any capacity for such a figure to rise.

Hope and Love

In the cold and dark

We wait for a spark

Hope may be all that remains

No matter the cost

Never to be lost

For it is love, always reigns

 

Symbi:  Is a poetry form where a poem is written within a poem in which there is a symbiotic relationship…hence the name Symbi.  It is a six line (sestet) with syllable counts of 5/5/7/5/5/7.  There is a haiku, senryu, or katauta written in the 1st line, 3rd line, and 5 line.  (It can be written in italics to draw the readers eye)  The rhyming scheme is aabccb.

Keep The Dream Alive

And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence. Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us. They had learned through hard experience what Frederick Douglas once taught: that freedom is not given; it must be won through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.

The above is excerpted from President Obama’s speech commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech in Washington, D.C. — the greatest speech in the history of humankind.  And one of the keys for me is what is described in that quote above.  Like Gandhi before him, MLK recognized the power of peace and love.  Of turning the other cheek.  Of taking the pain and the hurt and turning it around to something completely different.  Those who hate couldn’t possibly hope to overcome those twin pillars of a civil and just society.  They faced hate with prayer.  Violence with peaceful, nonviolent protest.

For a brief, all too brief, shining moment in our nation’s history, MLK showed the way to a better place.  Where violence and hate can be overcome by peace and love.  It worked wonders.

Sadly, since then, his lessons have been lost.  Far too much violence and hate is met with simply more violence and hate.  I think it’s time to get back to MLK and his ideas.

 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

The Title Lesson

One of the struggles with this book was keeping the title intact.  Once I came up with what is discussed below, I knew the title had to be Weed Therapy.  Unfortunately, that title evokes other, unrelated ideas in people.  No, it’s not a book about pot, mary jane, reefer, ganja … you get the idea.  The only mind-altering substance that makes an appearance in Weed Therapy is Tecate.  And, maybe a little religion as well, depending on how you want to read things.  That religion plays such a role will probably be a shock to those who know me.

So, with that said …

The old priest was in his church, kneeling at the altar with his head bowed so low it was a wonder he hadn’t fallen forward onto the cool stone surface that spread out between him and the display at the front of the church.  A single candle burned on the ground before him.  I leaned against the door frame and waited for Father Santos to finish his prayers.  His mutters and whispers reached me through the still of the morning.  Every once in a while he crossed himself and looked up at the figure of Jesus on the cross.  He would bow his head again and resume his pleas to his god.  For a man who claimed not to be a real priest, he seemed to be playing the role rather well.

Just as my stomach rumbled for the first time, the old priest rose from his knees.  His voice rose slightly with a sharp word or two, no doubt brought about by the pain in his joints.  I could hear the creaks and cracks all the way at the back of the church.  He stood for a few more seconds with his head bowed, crossed himself one more time, and turned to walk down the small aisle between the pews.

“Ah, Señor Rockwell.”  He smiled and walked past me on his way out the door.  Before he got too far, he turned back and looked again at me.  “Do you need to pray?”

“Uh.  No.  No, that’s okay.”

“Bueno.  The church is always open for your prayers.”  He turned back and walked towards the little house behind the church.  When he opened the door, he made a show of sniffing the air.  “Isabella must have come, no?”

“A woman brought a plate of food.”

“Was she beautiful?”

“Well,” I hesitated.  Here was a priest, real or not, discussing the looks of a woman who was many, many years younger than him.

“It is okay.  I am still a man,” he chuckled.

“Yes.  She was beautiful.”

“Then it was Isabella.  In little Santo Cielo, there is no other like her.”  I could definitely agree with Father Santos that Isabella was beautiful.

“Come.  Let us eat, if you have not already done so,” Father Santos said, crossing the threshold into his home.  Father Santos sat at the table and lifted the towel.  “Ah, you have much more patience than I.”  On the tray were two plates piled with scrambled eggs and bacon.  Another towel-wrapped bundle no doubt held more of Isabella’s tortillas.  In a bowl in the center was a diced orange fruit.

“Please.  Sit.”  As I did so, Father Santos bowed his head.  “Something I should have done last night, but I manage to forget now and then,” he said with a grin.  Another stream of quiet Spanish followed as he clasped his hands together.  With a clap of his hands, he finished and ordered, “Eat.”

We were silent while we ate, except when I asked Father Santos what the fruit was.  “It is mamey sapote.

“It’s very good.”  It tasted almost like pumpkin but was very sweet.  “I’ve never had it before.”

“Mamey sapote is native to this land.  Maybe, tomorrow,  you will try sapodilla or cherimoya.  They are sweet like nothing you have ever had before.  Better than candy.”

We ate in silence for a few more moments.  A silence broken only by the old man’s lips smacking together as he ate and the scrape of our forks on the cheap ceramic plates.  Once our plates were clear — I used the last tortilla to wipe everything off my plate to make sure I got it all — Father Santos piled the plates on the tray and put it by the door.

“Come,” he said.  I followed him out the door.  From the side of the house, he took a pail and handed it to me.  “The garden needs to be weeded.”  I looked at the flowers that nestled up against the house and could see barely a sign of a weed.  I looked at Father Santos questioningly.

“Por favor, look.  There are weeds.  Debe desherbar su jardin cada dia.”  He returned my gaze and placed a fist to his forehead.  “Señor, you must weed your garden every day, so that what weeds there are do not have a chance to spread.”  I bent down and could see, in a few places, small shoots of green just beginning to break the surface of the dirt.  “Otherwise, your garden will not grow as it should.  The flowers will not be as beautiful.”

Later on Kelvin has an opportunity to describe what this lesson really means in the context of his life and frustrations.  I’ll let you read the book to learn Kelvin’s explanation.  For me, it’s as simple as this.

Leaving a note behind for your loved one.  A note that says something as simple as “I Love You” or “I Want You.”

Touching your significant other.  Physicallly, emotionally, intellectually, intimately.  (I’ll come back to that in a moment.)

Sharing your worst fears and greatest hopes.

And listening when those you love share theirs.  With an open heart and an open mind.

It’s daily gestures.  Yes.  Daily.  Small and large.  Daily.  It’s telling your significant other you love him or her.  Not in that passing way, almost like a throw away line.  No, it’s stopping her, holding him, looking into her eyes, and saying, “I love you, I really do.”

It’s this … just like a garden is dirty … getting down in the dirt and muck of the relationship and cleaning it out.  Every single relationship has it.  Dirt and muck.  Digging at the weeds, pulling them out by the roots and discarding them so they can’t fester and grow, spreading their roots under the surface to pop up later on, farther down the garden.  The only time I’ve experienced true, unconditional love, meaning a relationship without the muck, was when my children were born.  For those first few years with each of them, I loved them.  It made no difference what they did or didn’t do, I loved them and I would do anything and everything I could for them.  To keep them safe.

But let’s be serious, eventually every single relationship we have develops weeds.  The question is what you’re doing to do to keep the weeds at bay.  Small gestures can do wonders.  But to me it comes back to engaging in the intimate aspects of the human existence.  And, here’s where women everywhere are probably saying … yeah, figures, he’s talking about sex.  No, actually, I’m not (although making love to and with your spouse — not having sex — can be a huge gesture).  I’m talking about those quiet moments when two people who claim to love each other share things they don’t share with anybody else.  Go back to the list above.  Leaving a note with words that you could only share with that one person.  Touching in a way that is reserved for your significant other.  Trusting like no other to hear and understand and help resolve those fears and dreams.  And doing the same in return.

I have often described a marriage as a relationship like no other in a person’s existence.  Why?  Because it is the only relationship where you choose somebody, another adult, to be a part of you and your life supposedly for the rest of your existence.  You make a promise of something.  And that promise should mean something.  It also means that there should be something different between the two of you.  Different than every other relationship you have.  As a result, there are words and touches and thoughts and experiences and efforts that should be reserved for that person.

You weed the garden of your marriage, you keep it bright and colorful, by remembering that.  Always remembering that.  You made a choice that this person was the one.  Act like it.  Keep the weeds away.

What do you think?

 

Speak From Your Heart

“Good.  Good.  Now you owe me something.  I have fed you and told you my secrets and, yet, I do not even know your name.  Keep your troubles to yourself, but … what is your name?”

“Kelvin.  Kelvin Rockwell.  My friends call me Kel.  My kids, when they want to rile me, call me Kellie.  They got that from their mother.  They get great joy out of annoying me.”

“Ah.  Niños.  Cuantos?  How many?”

“Two boys.  Spence and Jason.  Spence is thirteen, almost fourteen.  Jason is only four and still thinks that he just might get to see real steam come out of my ears if he angers me enough.”

“Hmmmmm,” the old man mused.  “Two boys.  You must love them very much.”

“Of course I do.”

“Pero?  But?”

“But what?”

“Por favor, please, Señor Rockwell.  You have two boys at home.  Yet you are sitting across my table from me, eating my beans and rice and Isabella’s tortillas.  On your face, I can see mucho dolor.  You are a pained man.  It is written into your skin.  You are here instead of at home with your Spence and Jason.  I ask you again.  What is it that troubles you?”

“I . . . I love my kids.”

“Si, naturalmente.  You have told me this.”

I drained the last of the beer and put the bottle on the table in front of me.  I began to scratch at the paper label on the bottle as I began to scratch at the surface of my pain.  “I don’t know if it’s enough anymore.”  I shrugged and looked at Father Santos, hoping that was enough to satisfy him.

“Señor.  Talk.  Talk with this,” he sighed, pointing at his chest, “instead of this.”  He pointed at his head.  “Let go.  Don’t be afraid to feel what you are feeling.”

“Father Santos, you’re asking me to say something I’ve never said before.  To . . .”

“Señor Rockwell, tienes que hablar de tu corazon.  Ay.  I am asking you to do nothing more than to speak from your heart.  You come here for a reason I do not know.  Maybe in the morning you will leave, but I doubt you will leave any wiser.  It is a long trip to make for nothing more than a plate of rice and beans and a couple of cervezas.  Even Isabella’s tortillas, as good as they may be, are not worth such a trip.”

The blurb on Weed Therapy may suggest otherwise, but thus begins Father Santos’s first lesson for the woebegone Kelvin Rockwell.

Tell me if you’ve done this.  It’s an internal conversation that goes on entirely inside your head and leaves you frozen, unable to speak what you feel.  Something like this:

I really wish my husband would stop spending so much time drinking with his friends and spending more time with me.  And the kids.  I can’t believe he keeps doing it.  It makes me worry so much.  I wish I could make him understand that he’s missing out on so much.  And that I miss him.  I need to tell him.  But, he’ll just tell me to back off or stop being such a worry wart.  Or, then we’ll start fighting and I don’t want to fight.

And, how do those conversations typically go?  You end up talking yourself out of starting it.  That little nitpicky fear tacked on to the internal conversation tells you to stop.  Don’t do it.  And then weeks or months later something happens and it ends up like this:

Why the hell can’t you clean up after yourself?  I’m so fuckin’ tired of cleaning up dirty dishes in the sink that you leave behind.  But, I guess you never notice since you’re never here.  Right?  Why should you care about the dishes if you’re always out with your friends?  You think you could stay home and spend some time with your kids every once in awhile.  At least.

Father Santos’ first lesson for Kelvin Rockwell is that he should speak with his heart instead of his head. Too often the emotions ruled by your head are those that lead to fear and uncertainty.  When you should speaking your feelings you are drawn away from them.  We all fear this.  The reaction we’ll get if we say what we really think and what we really feel.  Instead, our head stops by warning us.  Don’t.  Do.  It.

What this is really about for me is the most basic of elements required for a solid relationship.  Not just a marriage, but it applies to any friendship, and even employer-employee relationships as well.  Communication.  Feel what you feel and speak it.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t let your head stop you.  Don’t let your inner control rationalize away the need to share with those around you how you feel.  Even if it is an ache.  Even if it hurts.  Even if you aren’t sure how they will react.

I’ve had a few experiences in my lifetime where the ability to speak freely created the basis for the most incredible friendships I have ever had.  One in particular will always stick out as the creme de la creme — the most perfect example of this.  I laid the ground rule from the start.  I said communication is the key.  That everything and anything must be shared.  It turned into the most incredible thing I ever experienced and I learned from that.  If you speak from your heart to someone who is receptive to it (and, yes, that is a whole other issue), nothing but good can follow.

Speak from your heart.  With love and forgiveness.  Ignore the fear and uncertainty that clouds your head.

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