Anne Smith :: Blog for September 2016

September 26, 2016

Hi, Everybody-

My mom always told me, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all", which is the only reason I have remained silent throughout this summer! (Is it really September, and almost October?) This kind of forced, self-imposed reflection has been good for me, if lonely. It has been a time of going within, of picking through the pieces of me that are broken and deciding how to carry on. Here are some of my thoughts:

I haven't been the best judge of character in my life
I always thought that I could read people pretty well
I have been proven very wrong
Those people who proved me wrong really enjoyed my reaction
I have experienced a tremendous amount of pain and unintentionally caused pain to others whom I love, through misjudgment.

The culprit is not the "bad person" who took advantage, or lied, or abused, or slandered. The culprit is not the victim, the "good person" who wore rose-colored glasses or ignorantly believed that "deep down inside he/she really cares" The culprit is JUDGEMENT. It doesn't escape my attention that 4 out of the 5 thoughts listed above begin with "I"; and that I am assuming the role of judge to determine how I relate to others. Am "I" so important that it's necessary for me to own and evaluate every thought that floats across my inner landscape? It's exhausting to live that way, to attach associations and emotions to every idea, thought, impression, or impulse that fills my mind and label it as favorable, entertaining, informative, evil, etc., and then to catalogue it for future reference. There is only so much storage available upstairs in my attic! Sooner or later, things get backed up, overused, and begin to malfunction. Pieces get broken.

Last night, on my way home from work, I was concerned to notice (freaked out was more like it), a bizarre sound from the front right side of my car, whenever I was turning. The closest I can come to describing it is, that it sounded like a big aluminum can filled up with sand, that was making a swishing, liquidy sound as I would brake and turn. Kind of like an ocean wave. It was loud, and I assumed it had to do with my brakes. I had several stops to make on the way home, one at an AT&T dealership to handle an internet connectivity problem with my new phone, another stop at dry cleaner and finally the grocery store; it was dark as I pulled onto my street, and the noise was worse than ever. I started imagining "expensive car stuff", googling some 'car engine troubleshooting' sites on my newly restored internet connection; as we all know, one thing leads to another; so by the time I filled my head with dread over the car, not only did it need a completely rebuilt transmission on top of the brakes, but I definitely had a terminal disease too!

I reluctantly called off work, not wanting to drive 25 miles in a death trap, and focused on getting the car serviced at a garage somewhere near me. It was a Saturday morning, at 7am. Good luck! After sitting in the parking lot at Dunkin' Donuts and trying to set up an online appointment on a PepBoys site that kept crashing, my coffee kicked in and I noticed that I was parked in front of a Firestone Garage! I took a chance and walked in. By then it was 8, and an already hassled manager was pulling charts and directing an impressive volume of customers to his mechanics. "I know you're probably swamped already, " I began, hoping to manifest a miracle, "but my car is making a weird noise and I don't think it's safe for me to drive it to work. I had to call in, and I need to have the car looked at today, if you can." I was talking to a person who had zero time on his schedule- but that person knew I was upset and he couldn't say no. At first inspection, I was told, the car was fine, no problem with the brakes. I was relieved, but I wasn't convinced. The manager was curious to know why the car sounded this way to me, as he hadn't noticed anything off. So he took it for a drive. This time, he had an answer: the AC lines were clogged and backed up causing the excess condensation to slosh into the fan as I braked and slowed down, which made the soft whirring/sandy sound of the spray I was hearing! In fact, the lines were so clogged that water was coming into the car and it had soaked the carpet on the passenger's side. Sooner or later, things get backed up, overused, and begin to malfunction. Pieces get broken. Hmmmm.

Interesting. I had been there for over 3 hours. The bill? $15.75. This was a case where "the people who proved me wrong enjoyed my reaction". I bought 10 subs, chips, gatorade, fruit, and cookies for those guys, I was so grateful. And I enjoyed their reaction!

Even though I was anxious about my car, it was wonderful to have a brief reprieve from work for a few hours. I appreciated the metaphor of "putting the brakes on" my own life and slowing down. I was able to start the book my dad sent to me last week, "Amusing Ourselves to Death-Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business" by Neil Postman. A long title, but a fantastic and pithy assessment of American society and its addiction to entertainment. Postman takes a great deal of time to explore the significance of the metaphor within the content of our culture. We are a culture of New York minutes, quick-fixes, soundbites, info-mercials, bottom lines and declining attention spans. Postman challenges the reader to seek meaning outside of the media-induced content of our daily lives. For me, this means more inspirational and Arts based activity-writing, composing, singing, designing fashion pieces-and this in turn means making room for that to happen. It shouldn't take a car problem to justify time to read or appreciate the way a morning rain shower drenches the branches of a banyan tree and creates dramatic shadows in the theater of a common parking lot.

Friends, don't let the ticking of a clock distract you from the song of a mockingbird. Life is so precious. Pick up the pieces of you and set them on a sunny windowsill, where they will collect the refractions of broken light and make them into a rainbow meditation on your life. Sit still and watch. Don't judge any thoughts or memories that arise; and know, deep in your soul, that this moment is for you, and it is eternal.

Until Next Time x0x0x0

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