Monthly Archives: June 2016

We All Fall Down

It’s time to let Adam and Eve off the hook. Yes, eating from the tree of life was a big mistake. Their bad. Listening to the snake in the first place, not a smart move. Eve would love to take that one back. The story reveals humans for who we really are. Excepting Victoria’s Secret models, we’re often ashamed of our nude bodies, even when they’re in good working order. We like to eat lambs and trophy hunt lions. And we generally blame each other when things go wrong. Theologians are divided on the bible story, depending if: a) They believe it in the first place. b) They’re sexist pigs who pin everything on Eve. Or c) They take it as a metaphorical example of how we all need to be saved.

Falling can happen unexpectedly. A trap door opens beneath our feet, and down we go. For example. My hubby had to undergo a procedure that meant fasting for two days. He didn’t whine about it, but took a relaxed attitude. It was almost disappointing how well he was doing. Because I felt extremely anxious. We went to Home Depot, then to Chapters for a cup of tea. I was famished. I’d been sneaking around our apartment, chewing apples in dark corners like a rat who’d wandered in from the street. I didn’t want to eat in front of him, so I was much hungrier than I usually allow myself to get. (First world problem, I know) Hungry. Irritable. Or, as my family likes to say, ‘Hanson Hangry.’ It takes the definition up a couple of notches.

Anyway, I’m in line to pay for my book and I see Godiva chocolate bars right by the checkout counter. I snatch one, pay for it and stick it in my purse. Over the next half hour, I redefined the word ‘sneaky.’ If Clarence bent down to tie his shoe, I stuffed three pieces into my mouth. (I’m almost certain I consumed half the tinfoil in this way.) I would misdirect him by pointing and saying, ‘Do we know him?’ He was so tired from not eaten for two days that he wasn’t even suspicious. Did I feel bad? Yes and no. It sucked that he couldn’t eat anything. But somehow, chocolate tastes a lot better when you have to sneak it.

If God would have kept Her mouth shut, Adam and Even wouldn’t have paid any attention to the tree of life. They would have stayed completely comfortable in their little nude world of free food and gentle animal life. As for me, chocolate is my every day fruit. And when I think I can’t have it, then I Want Some Now! What can I say? I was hangry. I never usually eat chocolate that sweet, either. Too much sugar for me and I end up with a bellyache. But it was there! And how could I say no?

There are vices I’ve always felt a little judgemental about. Things I couldn’t imagine doing with my money or time. But we all fall down, every one of us. Mother Theresa maybe longed to wipe the floor with sisters less efficient at cleaning up the lepers.  And Jesus was a little impatient with people for wanting to start a revolution, and not getting the whole ‘Kingdom within,’ thing. Even really excellent teachers can get frustrated sometimes. Saviours want to walk away, even when they don’t. Some fall in these tiny ways, retaining their saintlike status. Others steal the funds from foreign orphanages, or dial up old people, telling them they won a trip and scamming them out of their hard earned money. Those con artists are going for gold in the Falling Down Olympics. We’re shocked when we hear these things. But. To some extent, we all partake. Whew! I feel so much better, now that I’ve made my confession. I bet you do too. Let’s hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

A Word to the Wise

My age has begun to feel like something separate from me. Like it needs its own chair. When I sit quietly and think about it, I feel grateful for this new decade of life. The years past are strewn with things I would handle differently now, given the lens of time and experience. There are words I would rephrase or even refrain from saying. Actions and activities I would skip altogether. Because, the older I get, the wiser I feel. Not like Gandalf or King Solomon, or even my parents. More like a wise person’s apprentice. I sense, hopefully, the green shoots of understanding beginning to poke their heads above ground.

Unless I’m around my kids. Then, I often feel like the newest recruit at the office. Or the understudy coffee maker at MacDonald’s. The other day, I was driving around with our youngest daughter. Throughout our conversation, she offered a litany of softly voiced suggestions. “Mom, the light is green now, you can go. Hey, mom, you might want to get in the other lane…otherwise it will be hard to turn. No, mom, you have to go past the building, then turn around to enter the parking lot.”

The more she talked, the more of a novice I became. “You know, I’ve been driving a lot longer than you,” I said, in the tone parents use when they’re feeling defensive. She gave me a semi-compassionate look, which somehow only made it worse. And the thing I kept thinking was, how old do we have to be before our children think we’re wise? The answer I came up with was, we have to be dead.

I’ve always admired my parents, but never more so than after they passed on. The way they did things, the encouragement they gave me. It wasn’t always like that, but as they got older, they sure seemed smarter. I wish I would have told them that. I’m sure I was complimentary about many things, but I don’t think I ever said, “Mom and Dad, you are so wise. Thank you for the advice.”

When my husband and I are alone together, we don’t notice that we’re reminding each other to turn off the stove or the water sprinkler, to plug in the car when its cold outside. Together, we feel like mature, competent adults. But when we’re around young people, ie: our children, we feel, to copy my mother’s phrase, like cows staring at a new gate. We become stupider. Or feel stupider. And yet our children are kind people. They’re helpful. But somehow, one can’t help picking up certain undercurrents. Like they’re secretly thinking, ‘Dear God, do I have to show them one more time how to get back on Pinterest?’

Being wise probably means accepting help gratefully. Knowing that our children are giving back to us for all the years we cared for them, in the best way they know how. We are each growing in our own way, at our own speed. So I head to the kitchen for another cup of tea and pat my age on the head as I walk by. (It’s sitting in the chair next to me.) “Good job,” I say. “Keep trying. You’re not quite there yet.”

The Art of Suffering

A couple weeks ago I was looking behind the washer when I stepped into a pool of water. My foot slipped and I cracked my rib on the edge of the machine. It was very painful, and being me, I cried out. Being my long suffering husband, Clarence hollered down the stairs, what now? Are you alright?

I was too busy whimpering to answer. I figured my rib was broken, or at least pushed out of place. But it would pass, I thought. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet, and I’m very tired of being in pain. I’m not any good at it. There is a smugness to people like me who have skipped through life missing out  on the hard stuff. Yes, I went through childbirth. It was bloody awful, both words being accurate. But half the human race does it, so it’s hardly a unique situation.

I went through a bad toothache experience once. I was in Montreal and ended up having to see a dentist about a root canal. Right before I went on national television, I was given very serious sedatives. I’m not sure anyone but family or close friends would have realized how absolutely stoned I was. And in a bizarre twist of fate, I had to keep repeating the words ‘Swarovski Crystal.’

Aside from that, and from shingles, which were not fun, I haven’t suffered much in my life. I know people who live with all kinds of pain. I pray for them, think about them. But I never really understood what it was like to have pain every day, all day. And night. Rolling over in bed, I sound like I’m either in labour or having very kinky sex. Don’t worry, dear neighbors, who can hear me through the open window. Neither is true. My rib is far too sore for any kind of shenanigans.

I have a new appreciation for those who live with pain. I know that mine will pass eventually, but for many, it will not. When I meet these people on the street or at the grocery store, complaining is not the first thing they do. Many have the ability to shove it behind them and just get on with things. Whereas I want to stop strangers in the street, take their arm and make serious eye contact. “I’m really hurting right now,” I’d like to say. This need to share, no surprise to my readers, has taken me by surprise. It’s as if I can’t believe the unfairness of it all.

When you think about how most of the world lives, what’s fair, anyway? I’ve had more than my share of blessings. I should be able to serve my time in the pit of despair with a brave smile. Alas. The people I know who suffer on a daily basis have made it look easier than it is. The art of suffering involves a lip of the stiffest kind. Mine is obviously made of play-dough.