Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reality vs Possibility

About a month ago, I had a disappointing but eye opening conversation. 

(I'm going to apologize for being somewhat vague in this post, but hopefully, you'll realize why)

You know those surveys that you are sometimes asked to take?  You know, the ones that are supposed to help businesses improve?  I'm sure you do.

The place I had been working asked us to do the same thing periodically.  I never found them in depth enough to really convey what I thought.  So, I eventually brought my ideas for improvement to a supervisor.

I sent an email and never heard back.  Then I sent another and had the same experience.  After the third email and several weeks went by, I forwarded them to her supervisor.  I wasn't trying to start trouble, really.  I felt I gave the first person more than ample time to respond and when she didn't, I moved on; plain and simple.

I feel very strongly that what I do is important.  I love working with the intellectually disabled population and since I have three boys of differing abilities, I see it as absolutely imperative that progress be made in this arena.

I didn't feel that my ideas were particularly radical.  What I was asking for was basically a pathway to full inclusion in recreation.  After all, it is what most people want for their children and it has to be the way of the future.  Segregation, even within a great model, is still segregation.  

I was taken aback, to say the least, when this person I was counting on to help me take us in this direction berated me for a full thirty minutes on the phone.  How dare I question the way things were done?  How dare I dispute their greatness?  Did I not know that we were the model for "How Things Were Done?"

I may have, at this point said that if we were the model, then that was pretty sad.  I might have.  Ok, I did say that, verbatim.  Yes, I was talking to someone who could have fired me on the spot.  I may have even hung up the phone and had her call me back.  Ok, that happened too; I'm not proud of it.  But, let's face it; I was pissed.  

How dare she tell me that there was no room for improvement?  How dare she say that there are some people who want segregation?  For real?  Like, really?  Forever and ever amen?  What?!?!?

How do we get the general population to see our citizens with intellectual disabilities as anything more than a burden, a waste of resources (read:  money) as HUMAN BEINGS if they are continually separated from the rest of us?  

And it's taken me a full month to realize that if this is the best that this group can do; then it is time to move on.  I am not ready to settle for the "best".  The best the disabled have right now SUCKS.

I am ready for a new direction, with like minded individuals.  I am ready to break a new trail towards full acceptance and inclusion for my children and for all the children that come after them.

I am exasperated by those who have been on the back of the bus for so long, that they forget they are even on a bus.  Don't you want more, goddamnit?  I know I do.

Monday, June 24, 2013


The universe may be infinite, but our time in it is not.  It is the merest eye blink; a heartbeat of the great unknown and all-knowing.

As much as I love Long Island Medium and hope that my departed loved ones are still close by; I'd rather have them in the flesh to hug and laugh with.  

It's certainly not the same talking to the air, even if they are listening.

And there are only so many times you can watch the same home movies without feeling like maybe it's time to get back to real life and stop living in the past.  

And you start to do this and life is great and you are in the moment for the first time in a long time and then you dream.  You dream that things are the way the were BEFORE; before death, before sorrow, before, before, before...

And when you wake up, the pain is new again and you cry and moan and wonder WHY?!? and you are right back where you started.  It doesn't matter if it's been twenty years or two days.  The pain is so close to the surface that a word or smell or angle of sunlight can dissolve you into a useless mess.

And you cry.

And when your tears dry, you realize that life is not about happy or sad.  

Life is a series of moments.  Your moment of joy comes at the same time as another's moment of sorrow.  Your sun shines, while for another, it is darkest, coldest winter. 

Your moment of sorrow will not last, nor will it ever disappear.  

And it will catch you again and again, but so too will the joy.

And you pick yourself up.  And you hold those close to you.  And you remember that you need to live and cherish and love.

Because what would be the point of not?  

Because your dear departed wants you to live to love another day.  

Because you are meant to be happy; not every second, but overall.  

Because you are meant to do great things.

Because your capacity for agony reflects your capacity for joy and the world needs your joy.

Because you are not done.

Because there will be another moment worth the struggle.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Unwelcome Teacher

We all have them.  

They come in many forms:  a layoff from a job, an illness, some other life event that makes us question the big picture, or in the form of a person.

Mine comes in the shape of a relative that I used to be very close with. Her particular brand of attack is a constant, thinly veiled hint that my soul is in danger.  She feels that because I have not accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, that I am going to Hell.

There are so many problems with this, not the least of which is the fact that I don't believe in Hell.

No matter how many times I asked her to stop, the bombardment continued.  I began asking less nicely, than less, until I became downright hostile.  

Kinda like this:

Damn, I love Phil...

It's kind of funny, but, then it isn't.  I've lost someone close to me because she couldn't see that she was making me hostile with her words.  She would not hear me when I said that I would no longer speak to her if she continued. It got to the point that I was getting so angry over it, that I was turning into the exact kind of person that I imagined she thought I was.

It made me angry that she could not just accept me as I was; flawed like anyone else, but overall, a good person.  I hold no malice for anyone, I am active in fighting for justice, I volunteer, I help those in need.  I don't ask for praise or even acknowledgement of these things, I just ask that you overlook my shortcomings (however you perceive them) and see the good.

As I am writing this, I am realizing that I am asking of you (and that judgey relative) what I cannot do for myself.  I guess I am having an epiphany of sorts.  What I mean is that I am the harshest, judgiest, meanest, least tolerant of my flaws.  If I can't see my inherent good, how can I ask anyone else to see it?  If all I see when I look in the mirror is a middle aged, chunky failure, why should I expect anyone else to see me differently?

The biggest and most wonderful irony is that those who truly love me (not just my soul), see my beauty and my goodness and my charity and my passion and my authentic self.  They see what I am begging myself to become.  They see that I am already that person.  

See yourself through a loved one's eyes.  See yourself as you see them; perfect because you love them.  We don't love others despite their flaws, we love them because we don't dwell on their flaws.  We dwell on what makes them beautiful to us.

So, to my unwelcome teacher, thank you.  You have made me realize that in wanting to change me, you only want to change yourself.  I may be a disappointment to you, but to those that matter, I am perfectly imperfect and worthy of love without judgment.  

I am blessed without your blessing.