Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bucket of Balls

The first cool evening of fall blew through North Texas last night. It reached the remarkable low of 54 degrees F.

This morning I am watching leaves as they bid goodbye to their host of many months. Brown with age, they are being lifted on the wind to a new home on the surface of the grass, their greener friends still in place and seeming to wave at the aged ones below. The freed leaves tumble along with a steady north wind, their ultimate destination subject to the directional whim of the wind, much like all parts of nature, including our own lives at times. The leaves and their fall ritual reminds me that I don’t much care for ritual. I never have really been one to revel in doing things just because we always have. But wait, now that I have actually typed that thought I realize it is inaccurate to a fault. I should have said I dislike particular traditions. Others I enjoy.

I really do like watching the World Series each year and have no quarrel with it, only joy and contentment, except for the incredibly annoying and hyper-self important commentary of Joe Morgan.

I really don’t like Christmas. I really don’t, and I think many others don’t like it as well. I’m not talking about religious significance. I’m talking about the travel to relatives; travel that is expected of you, or you land in the family dog house. My mom’s dog house is a big one. She can fit lots of wayward in there and I understand she is considering adding a couple of rooms. I’m talking about the sister-in-law’s that are amazingly shallow. The ones that think clever conversation is to discuss Oprah’s best shows, followed by expressing genuine reflections about life and Oprah. Or, seeing the same green jello thing with sliced bananas in it that some damn body makes; now 27 years in a row. I never asked who is making this stuff, but it appears that it is a family member that hasn’t passed yet. Or, having to listen to my mom’s second husband who appears to believe that evil is committed and the world is unsafe unless he is talking non-stop about himself, all the while mistakenly assuming that I am the very best listener in the family.

I really do enjoy new green grass in the spring. The scent of the green never fails to remind me of baseball. I go into my garage and stare at the two very large plastic buckets of new baseballs. These are the seldom used balls that survived my years of coaching. I always take one out and carry it in the house with me. I imagine them all raising their hands and saying “take me this time, take me!” Only one gets to go into the house each spring. I love that tradition.

I don’t like praying in public. For all of you that read here, you know that I own a strong spirituality, and still this one gives me the ‘heebies’. I think it began in my youth, listening to male relatives pray before meals using the same worn phrases and prayer clich├ęs. At some point in my youth I ran across the bible quote about always praying in a closet and not making a public spectacle of praying. I like this idea better than the overreaching and bizarre prayers that come out of some people’s consciousness. Now as a family male elder, I am called on for the Christmas or Thanksgiving prayer and I tell you I detest having to do this. Bear in mind that refusing the task results in permanent dog house status with 2 padlocks on the door, a bowl of water and no food. I think of public praying much like I think about public dancing. The amateurs should very definitely leave this task to a professional. At all times.

There you have it; 2 ‘dislikes’ and 2 ‘likes’ about traditions, anyone see a pattern?


Rick said...

My solution to Christmas and Thanksgiving, prayers et. al. was to move 1800 miles from the closest family member. Terrorists prevent me from visiting over holidays.

patti_cake said...

I am laughing at you being cornered by your Mother's second husband. Sounds like my BIL. Gah.
I guess I do like traditions and rituals. I somehow find them comforting. For instance when we move into the new (old) house I can't wait to bake holiday cookies with my girl and hide her easter basket .... don't get me started on the holidays LOL
Can't wait to see pics of the metal mouth cutie!

Rob said...

7, I'm wondering what happens next after all the baseballs are inside and they start clamoring to get away from all their relatives.

Molly said...

OMG! I talk to my female relatives about Oprah all the time! OMG! Blush, blush, blush. I will stop, I promise.

Seven said...

Good move. I like the terrorist bit.

Cornered is an excellent way of defining that torture. He follows me around like a little dachsund...yap,yap,yap.....

And you my friend get the award for too funny comment. I might have to conduct a family meeting of the baseballs and make new arrangements. And maybe the ones in the house need to be recycled to the bucket! hahahaha

It's OK. Still love ya, and I love the sis in laws too.

Robert Shapiro said...

Seven, you know and I know and I think all of us who congregate here know that you are a spiritual man.

Given that, I know that you can sit down and write - you write well too eh - you can sit down and write a prayer that you will feel good about saying out loud.

I know it makes you a little nervous to speak out loud to groups of people who have expectations albeit perhaps unrealistic about you - who, granted do not know the real you but they do have affection for you and they might just be available to surprise you at times. Also since I know that you are not shy about stirring up the pot, this could be a chance to stir up the pot in a benevolent and inspired way.

Connect to your inspiration - I know that's easy for you and come up with a prayer that you feel good about and that will fit into enough conventional religion that others will feel good about it too. I know you can do it and I have complete faith in your creativity and in your true heart.

Goodlife my friend.

Seven said...

Your x-ray vision makes a clean slice. I have done this before. I have written what I think are quite nice prayers and delivered them as well. I think my thought is along the lines that prayer is a matter of some privacy and of a personal nature. Another way of saying this is that another's prayers might not fit cleanly into my personal conversation with God. This thought, for me, translates to 'perhaps when I pray in public that I too am talking only for me and not for the individuals that surround me.' And, maybe I just need more growth, you see this, and are gently guiding me as usual?

Robert Shapiro said...

Seven, this falls under the persistence situation doesn't it. One way to get them to see that you are different is to keep it up. So I still go with the feeling I have that they can accept your heart.

It is a good sign that they talk about Oprah because I believe, though I must admit I haven't seen her show - but from what I've heard she is demonstrating heart very often. So if relatives are welcoming that then give it a try.

Who knows, maybe your batting average will get better and then again - maybe it's their batting average that will improve when they listen, feel, accept and most importantly with you my friend - welcome as you so often welcome others.


Grant said...

I like Xmas - it's cold, I get time off work, and most Xtians expose their soft underbellies by wallowing in greed and misery instead of celebrating that thing it's all supposed to be about. Something to do with Frosty being crucified for wearing green and red together, I think.

Seven said...

I agree I took a cheap shot with the Oprah thing, and as usual your insight is keen. I am very different from the balance of my family, often feeling estranged both in thought and action. I have tried very hard; it seems the thing that makes it so hard is that the scenarios and conversations that make me uncomfortable never change.
In this respect I struggle with home and the holidays. It's sad, but a reality for me to continue to chisel on.

Indeed the holiday looses its luster when our behaviors fall short of our pronouncements.

Ilias- said...

Hi Seven, well I surely am no guru just a boy. Very innocent about many things. I want to share a story that your post stirred up. Last Christmas, I made a point to visit my family as they were gathered in one place.. a portion of my family anyway. At the time, I was feeling very afraid about my family and what they must have been thinking about me after all these years I had been missing Christmasses and family get togethers. Well, last holiday I decided that I was going to face this growing discomfort with the gap between my likes and preferences and my family's preferences. See I always felt out of sync, unable to participate and actually like am imposter. Well, as I decided to face my family, I was really facing myself as I chose to be myself no matter what. The part that reminded me about this was the prayer part and I wrote a two page prayer that had my heart spilling onto the paper. It was about all of the things I felt thankful for at that moment. And I really got into it, down to the details of the past year. I included the gathering of my family there and interrupted early eaters to announce that I had a prayer that I wanted to read. In my mind I imagined that people would be bored or thinking that I was self-indulgent... but as I finished my few minute reading, I looked up to see each one of their faces noticably touched, glowing or emotional. I felt so good to have faced my self in the way that I was sharing who I was to them that it would not have mattered what they responded with. But the bonus was that they loved it. My Aunt requested that I make a copy of my prayer for her, which I slyly replaced with a prayer for peace by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Not sure if she appreciated that but it felt right to me. Anyway, having done that I feel like I've opened to myself as part of my family by reading that prayer and in effect showing them my true colors. And to you Seven my friend, I wanted to share my story because I enjoy reading your posts and making thoughtful comments in response. Thanks for your sharing.

Seven said...

Its a thoughtful and quite beautiful response you have made. I thank you for it. I might lack your courage, and in that way I respect your courage a great deal.

Anonymous said...

In recent years I've been finding an inner peace in my personal spiritual journey, but as it has a nontraditional bent to it, I often find myself feeling distant from siblings and other family members who seem to conversely becoming more conservative and fundamental. I find it challenging sometimes to listen to rote prayers which seem uninspired to me. Hmm. I'm not usually asked to offer prayers. Perhaps they know more about me than I think! They probably suspect I'll pray to the four winds or something. And I might!! I'd be out in that doghouse with you, I think. It's rather sad that we aren't more accepting and forgiving of other ways, isn't it?

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

"travel that is expected of you"

Almost the worst kind of travel!

I'm not big on Christmas either...only because it's just SO damn commercial now. SO materialistic!

Seven said...

Yes I think you are on bullseye with what I feel. Not only the spiritual side, but the other cultural aspects of life also seperate me from my family. The Christmas scene is weirdly like the movie 'Groundhog Day'. Brown-Eyed Girl and I laugh just because we have started being able to make predictions about the day with stunning accuracy. Frankly, it just bores me a great deal. Ooops, I'm getting all negative again, but still I just find it painful rather than fun. There are absurd racial jokes, painful nascar discussions, comparisons of who has had the least rain, repetition of childhood stories that I have heard 50 times...same food....same schedule....and so forth.

Seven said...

Queen of the Nuts,
Where have you been! I miss you.

Angie said...

When my grandfather passed away several years ago, the tradition of saying prayer before the meal at holidays was passed on to the "elders". Luckily, Grandpa used the same prayer at every meal so it was much easier to transition! Try it. Worst case scenario, they'll get tired of hearing the same prayer and ask someone else to do it!

Enemy of the Republic said...

Well, I don't think you like overt hypocrisy, so praying aloud and Christmas don't ring true to you because you doubt their sincerity. I can't stand Christmas because of the money, the family stuff--you name it. It no longer has anything to do with Jesus. As for praying aloud, I rarely do it, but I daily write a prayer journal. There are many ways to communicate with God. Some do it through their art. Prayer isn't always language. Certainly at church I pray aloud--not always--and sometimes, I will pray with a friend or my pastor. But generally it is the individual who starts it: I rarely do it, although I was tempted to pray over one of my students recently. Instead, I just remember her in my prayer journal.

a fish on a bycicle said...

Pattern? Sir, I believe you have an empathy, with entropy, and the thing that puts the brakes on for you is listening to that gut feeling of right or wrong.

Seven said...

I hear you clearly. I can say some magnificent prayers, at least I think so, but I'm not so sure such prayers are intended to be shared with another that may find no substance or meaning in my thoughts or words. I think Robert's hopr for me and I know it is a heartfelt one (though I shouldnt put my words into his comments) is that all prayer should be benevelont in nature and benevelont creatures will accept my praying whatever it may be, so long as it is benevelont. There is also the issue of teaching the young to address the Creator and this should not be overlooked in a cavalier fashion...and with all that said I think Fish hits on something important in analyzing the resistance as having some merit as it relates to my personal level of comfort.

Your perception is noted in the comment above. As far as entropy, if we use the modern definition of 'measuring information in a body of info for inherent value', I think this is quite astute of you in my opinion, and I think you meant it in that fashion?

Seven said...

That is part of my problem with this. It all sounds so ritualistic and insincere...I don't think my family would notice any difference!