The Question

The question comes this time of year, like the clockwork tick of midnight. “What do you want for Christmas?” Every year, family and friends always ask one another what is the most precious thing they would like to receive? Each year, my answers come harder, weightier, like some kind of labored breathing. It’s tough to swallow and answer. It’s difficult to find a voice and each year, one more year, I find silence and a shrug is easy.

Why? Because just a week ago, we celebrated our gratitude for those things that we have, the things which grace our lives and make it whole. It is the feeling of falling leaves, a tide turning, and new light on the horizon. Why is hard? Because I have everything I could need or want. I have health and happiness. I have moments of joy and laughter, I have sadness and struggle. My life is rich beyond measure, and I am grateful for the beautiful ocean, the warm sun, the cold wind, the soft bed, the cats who adore my food provisions. So much of my life is blessed, how could I possibly want more?

So, the question comes to me and I am quiet. In my head, I answer this way:

“What do I want for Christmas? I want to have the sun make me smile on a spring morning. I want you, whoever you are, to be happy for a brief Tree Lights in Winterperiod every day. Give me the gift of your happiness, of your smile. When I am low, give me a hug and a smile. Giggle for no other reason than it feels good. Celebrate your freedom and your joy. If you get mad at someone, laugh it off. Teach me to do the same. Every once in a while, put a dollar in the hand of someone who needs it. Buy someone a sandwich and give it to them, maybe an orange juice, too. If someone falls, help them up and don’t just stare at them. When you wake up in the morning, feel good that you are whole and alive. Smile at your partner. Smile back at me. If the world comes crashing down, help me start picking it up a block at a time. I will help you do the same. Sit with me and watch a sun set. Call me for coffee when you want to talk or when you just want to sit. Let’s read a book together. Over coffee, on Friday mornings, let’s solve all the world’s problems, then meet again the next Friday to do it all over again. Teach me to make good espresso. Show me how to eat something I’ve never eaten before. Travel with me, somewhere, any where. Make me a card or an ornament out of salt dough. Hang the one I make you on your tree. Smell the roses, the bread, the coffee, and the pine trees. Taste the ocean and listen to a sea shell. Lay on the grass beside me and tell me what the clouds look like to you. Critique my writing, my photography, my art – with a loving hand and clarity of vision.

Buy a cow for a hungry family in another part of the world. Adopt a child in Sierra Leone. Fund a food drive, gather coats, and take care of cats at the shelter. Or dogs. Give gift bags to the homeless, toys for the children, and blankets to the local shelter. Volunteer to feed the hungry or soothe the afflicted. Tutor. Teach. Educate. Volunteer at the Library. Read to children. Teach them to read to each other.

Love someone. Love yourself. Love each other. Hug your cat, your dog, and your friend. Laugh at my jokes and teach me to laugh at yours. Remind me that this life is for living, not working. Take me by the hand and show me how to enjoy a cookie, a walk in the woods, or a moonlight swim. Bring me into your world, for a brief moment, and come with me into mine. Listen. Console. Hug. Touch. Walk barefoot. Catch rain in your hand. Do these things for me, for you. Do these things for the world. Make Christmas be a living 365 day celebration of life and love and joy and energy and knowledge and caring. Make Hanukkah light the world every single day. Color the world Kwanzaa and Diwali each moment. Live your creed every single day. Don’t talk to me about it. Don’t preach or write or anything. Just be the you who you were meant to be and be with me because I am who I am. Nothing more. Nothing less. Everything amazing.

Ice Light

For my friends, my family – this is what you can get me. Take all that material energy and really be part of my life and help me be part of yours. Help me be a better person because with you in my life and living with me in it, I can’t help but be that better person. You are all amazing. Let’s be amazing together.”

Yes, Virginia, I do answer it this way. I really, really mean it. It is really, really what I wish for. Now and for the rest of my life. In this season of renewal and rebirth, I look forward to the new year and all our time together.

-TDD

2011 to 2012

Happy New Year to all! Here’s that moment we all share, all possibilities realized in the birth of a whole new calendar. I just have to let go of some things first, some dregs of 2011. This was the worst that the year had to offer… the things that stand out to me that I need to release from my consciousness before I can move on.

I’m bringing out the bleach and cleaning up these irritants…

  1. Texting while doing anything else in public. Driving, walking, shopping, coaching a football game, partying, and my personal favorite – at a concert, about the…yes, concert.
  2. Talking with the phone in your hand while driving.
  3. “Please.” Gone.
  4. “Thank you.” Hanging out in the dark, nether regions with “Please.”
  5. General lack of courtesy for fellow human beings, especially in parking lots and on streets.
  6. Retail clerks not counting back change.
  7. People whose sole source of news is Yahoo!
  8. Expressions of Entitlement.
  9. Seriousness. All. The. Time.
  10. The death of the Turn Signal.

Here’s to letting go of the irritants, doing my best to not be irritating myself, and moving on. Here’s to cleaning out my house, inside and out, and a fresh new start.

What will I fill my house with now? I propose the following:

  1. More time with the people I love.
  2. Cooking at home with said people.
  3. Nature. Lots of it.
  4. Laughter. Lots of it.
  5. Hugging my husband.
  6. Hugging my cats.
  7. Being in the world, not plugged into it.
  8. Sunrises and sunsets.
  9. Chocolate.
  10. Sense of exploration and freedom.

For all my friends, loves, family, and co-workers in life – I wish you the best of all things in the coming year. Every year we feel that itch of potentiality, that whiff of Spring-to-come, of life dormant and yet somehow vibrant. Seize your moment, hold your will, employ your wisdom, and bring your beauty to the world in whatever shape it may take. You and I can do this. I thank all of you for being in my life and living the dream of human with me.

-TDD

Open Letter to My Congressman

Dear Congressman/Senator/Governor/other Elected official,

First off, I would like to point out to you right on the onset I consider you mine. You are my representative, my voice, my conscience, my will when it comes to the law, rules, and regulations of this country. You speak for me. You bear my vote and my witness. Clearly we must establish this up front because, as so often appears the case, you rarely invoke “me.” You tell me about what YOU will do quite often but what will you do in my name? How will you use my name? Remember that you speak for me and as such, I have a thing or two to tell you.

Thomas Paine said “government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” You are fast becoming an intolerable evil. Let us begin with the volume of waste that has arrived at my doorstep in the past few weeks. I could paper and entire living room in the sheer junk that has arrived for you or any number of your opponents. Yes, I understand that in many cases, you had nothing to do with it. Yet, you did. You created the environment that allowed this kind of waste and ridiculous spending to occur. Millions upon millions of dollars were spent in this country to elect you – to sway my vote one way or another with splashy campaign ads and mailers.

I didn’t read one.

Would that your money, or the money of those who would elect you could have gone to do something better for the world. That would have swayed my vote. Would that you had spent it philanthropical groups, on public works, on libraries or schools, on roads and homelessness. That would have surely bought my vote. Would that you had spent it by giving jobs to people, rather than to volunteers who mail these things or place them on doorsteps. I would have cast a YES vote for you in a heartbeat.

Stop calling me at all hours of the day to ask me to vote for you. I hang up, as do thousands, if not millions, of others. Stop sending people in your name to court me, to buy me, to seduce me. I am not so easily led. Instead, call me personally. Talk with me, not at me. Find out what my life is like and what I have to say. Find out what is important to me as a person, as a wife, as a homeowner, as an employee, as a business owner. Find out what it’s like to live where I live and deal with what I do, day in, day out. Learn me and you learn how to speak for me.

“Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country – and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians. ” Charles Krauthammer

Don’t be surprised at my disillusionment with politics and government. I am a libertarian, pure and simple. I believe there does need to be a government but minimal, and with my voice in the lead. We are a republic, which Webster’s says is “b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government.”

Do you want my vote next time? Do you want what I have to say? Then work for it. Don’t WORK in Washington – work for me. Ask me what I want, listen to what I have to say, then do what I ask you to do. THAT is why I vote for you. Work for me, and I will provide you that one little check mark you want, the one that might put you over the top. Find some values – ones that are real. Find some ethics – ones that I would live by. Find some heart – remember what it’s like to be a person in this world, in this country. Take a moment and breathe the air I breathe, walk in my shoes.

You might actually find that soul that you lost so long ago.

I am a realist enough to know that tonight, election night, I will lose once again. We all will. And the Democratic Republic of the United States of America gasps, another death rattle in all our chests. Tonight, we again lose our choice under the guise of democracy. Again, we lose our right to be a nation of individual thinkers, bound to the lowest common denominator: the politician.

Gods help us all.

-TDD

Have you ever thought about…

I get the 4th of July. I love fireworks like every other person, and I love to set them off, especially in Kansas where my husband’s family lives. They have some really cool ones there, and acres of farmland in which to light them off.  The Fourth is a great time of year for picnics, fireworks, families, and celebration.

Yes, here’s my but…

I live in San Francisco. And right now, right this moment, I’m in a war zone. I have two dogs and two cats cowering at my feet, terrified every time the floors and walls shake. Some people are tossing M80s under cars as they pull away from stop signs. Bottle rockets are flying up into the air, landing on rooftops around me. Firecrackers are being tossed over fences and into the school playground across the street from where I live. Some people have found it funny to try to blow up some stone fountains and other household decorations.

Not only do I find it tedious, I worry for my animals.

Never mind the sonic booms that hurt their ears and startle them into shaking, what about the bright lights and shaking walls that terrify them the rest of the night. One of the dogs is prone to epileptic seizures when he hears loud noises. I sigh and just hope that the night wears on a little quieter.

I don’t think people really think about other people, or animals, or the fabric of the society in which they live. I think people care very little for others, especially when it might infringe on “their” fun. People care very little for other people’s property or lives or sanity, or even their sleep. I say people but I am talking about the general populace. The plebeians that live in all neighborhoods everywhere.

Some would tell me not to live in the city if I didn’t like it. They’re probably right. Why should I expect common decency and manners to rule in the inner city? Why should I expect neighbors to care for each other or people to look out for each other? Why should I even hope that people would respect others property and lives? It’s the city. Things like common courtesy never happen in the city, so suck it up and don’t expect it. I guess the fabric of society in a city is really a durable polyester, prone to stains and some hideous patterns.

I gotta find me some silk. Quick.

For those who haven’t guessed, this is a rant, directed towards the very people who are most likely never going to read it. If indeed they even could.

Happy 4th, y’all.

–TDD

Imposing Choices

I had someone tell me that “freewill is for the ignorant.” It took me a long time to figure that out. I’m currently reading a book (well, one of many) called Valis, by Philip K. Dick. It’s an odd book, filled with a lot of religious theory, interwoven with a fictional story. I didn’t know quite how many people had found this book and had huge awakenings – I was a little surprised. But, reading it now, I can see why. Even as well read as I am now, I’ve come to some interesting moments and thoughts that have just opened up some new vistas for me.

My first was melding masonic teachings, gnosticism, and the theories in this book to come up with some new ideas about who we are, where we’re going, and why. I don’t, like Horselover Fat, need to write down an exegesis of the theories. What I’ve toyed with is the gnostic ideas of time, the godhead and where it exists, and what our roles are in all of it. Fascinating. I’ve thought about ourselves being the single point in the constant and time/space/matter flow around us. Therefore, if we can access the “outside of time”, where the true Gnostic god resides, then we can see all of these things at once. We can also see ourselves, at all times, in all stages of development. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to really understand that we are, at the same time, everywhere and all ages? Wouldn’t that teach us a little humility in dealing with others? Perhaps that is what my friend meant – choices don’t exist because we’ve already made them; the universe decided and we were already a part of it. We just haven’t been awakened to that knowledge yet. Gnosticism at its finest.

🙂

I’m not sure how one could sustain the thought for very long without imploding our own mind. Perhaps that’s what happens to the truly psychotic – they’ve lost the way back from that mind-blowing moment and are stuck in that all-knowing (or partially knowing) place. That would be hell on earth, wouldn’t it?

I’m also reading Gnostic Philosophy. Another fascinating book and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that I’m reading them both at the same time. What I love about this book is that it not only ties together histories but also helps convey what is and what is not gnosticism. Some authors and philosophies that I used to revere are now a little more “human” for me. Probably a good thing.

I love the search for all aspects of the divine, wherever they lead. Can’t be afraid of anything you find. Treasures lurk. Ideas happen. I hope I never lose that love.

–TDD

Gratitude for Firefighters

The fires are raging in California, as they always do this time of year. The news leads with how many acres have burned, how many houses have been lost, and how many people have perished or been hurt. They finally speak of the firefighters who lost their lives in the battle.

For  those who have not been around fires of this magnitude, they are akin to the burning of the oil fields in Kuwait, during the first Iraq war. The skies turn sickly shades of orange, gray, and black. The air hangs with ash and the smell of smoke is everywhere – even 30 miles away. A friend of mine in Colorado noted that even her skies are marred by the taint of these fires.

During the fires in the early 90’s, in the Oakland hills, I stood in a place that was miles from the fire and watched pieces of people’s lives, tattered and torched, drift onto cars and sidewalks. Sometimes, whole pages of books would drift down from the sky, like some kind of surreal rain storm. It is quiet. People hush in deference to the possibility of looming catastrophe.

During all of this, there are men and women who face gruelling days and nights at the edge of this madness. Every day, large fire or not, they risk their own lives to save not only our persons but the things which make up our lives. They make the tough decisions about who will lose their house and who will not, based on what their own physical limits can achieve and the resources they have. These decisions are instantaneous and far-reaching. They have the physical and emotional stress of seeing lives come and go right in front of them; sometimes they can have an affect. Sometimes not.

I was filled with a huge sense of gratitude for these real heroes. These are the people to whom we own not only gratitude but honor and compensation due the enormous risks they take. They face all kinds of dangers, every day, without knowing into what situation they may be thrown. This takes a certain willingness, dedication, and love of the human race that many people just don’t have. It also takes courage and a modicum of love of danger… most of us are not completely altruistic… Yet, the rewards are usually so few for these people.

I shake my head and wonder at our world; we compensate sports and movie personas withmillions and yet, these people who put their own time, limbs, strength, and lives into protecting us are not compensated even 1/100th of the same amounts. We tend to put value in the weirdest places instead of what’s really important. What does it mean when a firefighter loses his or her life for one of those million-dollar stars? Like teachers, police officers, and artists, firefighters are often the last compensated, the first cut, and the first ignored. Really? Is that what we really value? Something to think about.

Someone recently said that when these things happen here, all of California becomes one big fire department. It’s true. Not only do the firefighters band together but the rest of the state finally turns its eye to these important and vital people. We should learn to look in their direction often, whether we’ve called 911 or not.

Thank you, all of you on the fire lines, in the air, in the station houses, and on the road. I am grateful that you’re there.

Authority?

I’ve been working on my business. More often I am working IN my business but today, I’m on it. It’s a funny thing, too, because I have more ideas than my head can contain. Then is there time to sort it all out? Perhaps I can sleep when I’m dead.

The question is, I look at my life and wonder, where am I the authority? What ideas and thoughts and knowledge can I impart to the world, that the world wants to know?

I’ve surveyed and have information. I have ideas. I have some cool things happening. Slowly. Ugh. So slowly. But, perhaps that’s the key. I start by collecting things – information, questions, requests. I move on to teaching, imparting, and growing. Is it all about wealth? No. Is it all about freedom, heck yea!

I think that’s what we all want. We are all the authority on something and perhaps part of our function in life is to impart that wisdom to others as we age. As a society and culture, Americans have not done a very good job in that arena. We tend to disregard what our older people know, what they think, how they feel. Their knowledge is golden and it is lost each and every day. Unique pieces of the world are gone. Are we doomed to have to learn it again?

I think right now it’s a capitalistic view of sharing knowledge but that will change. Over the course of hundreds of years, people will evolve and learn to share without dollar/rupee/Euro attachment.

I guess until then, we’ll all keep working “on our business.”

–TDD