Thursday, September 2, 2010

Splendorous Sibling

“THE PACK OF BASTARD’S!!!” This statement greeted me one day when I answered the phone. My Sweet Deifiúr was informing me that someone had elicited her wrath. The dimwitted fool raising her ire proved to be someone who I had complained about the day before on this blog. It is an old saying my Dear Sainted Mother would use when anyone said or did something wrong or about to one of her kids. This little bit of my mother is something that we have kept and use to soften each other when we are upset. Softening me in my battle with reality is something my Deifiúr does extremely well. It is part of the reason for this post. The chief purpose of my putting finger to key is as follows:

It is once more that time of year when I am obliged to engage in a ritual that has always been rather banal and uninteresting to me. My Sweet Deifiúr is celebrating her entrance into this world. The ritual I refer to is one where I go to the store, most probably my mercantile of choice owned and operated by the family of the Sage from Bentonville. I peruse the greeting card aisle and choose something that seems to say what I feel about this wonderful woman. I then go and attempt to locate a stamp and usually encounter someone who wishes to sell me thirty or forty stamps, even though all I require is one. I only send one piece of mail a year that requires postage. All other correspondence and business I perform on-line or in person The US Postal Service has been in financial trouble of late, and there is no way to tell if the stamps I buy today will be sufficient next year when I am in need of another. That is not to say that the price of the stamp, or the card for that matter, is the major concern. The interruption of my walkabout through this great and grand existence we call life is neither irritating nor infuriating. It is her birthday and I wholeheartedly wish to celebrate the massive gift the God of my understanding gave the world on September 3, 1948.

The true issue is the effort to deliver eight or ten words on a card that may or may not get to its destination on time, is horribly insufficient. It seems trite and, well, almost insulting for me to express the love and affection I have for my sister in so few words or actions. I am talking about a monumentally exceptional person and giant of a woman who goes about the business of being a true superhero in the quietest way, with dignity, compassion, and love. How are you going to say that in a two or three dollar card? I have always believed that I am not and have never been the brother she deserved. I have always been a true and regular pain in the ass. Unfortunately, it does not seem that I am liable to change that anytime soon.

Talking on the phone yesterday, I was assailing the healthcare system and the efficiency of the doctors I currently employ to see to my health. I am an old fart and it is no secret that I have a definite faculty to be a grouchy old fart. This does not seem to bother her. I told her that I was going to stop fussing at her because she did not do anything to deserve it. Her reply was simple… “I love you, you’re my brother.”

On those seldom times that I go visit her and Captain Domesticado, she turns her entire life over to me, and whatever schedule I wish. While there, we eat what I want, and if she does not get to bake me the apple pie I dearly love, she apologizes and makes sure there is something just as good for dessert.

My infirmities have gotten the best of me recently and I asked her to find a motel for me to stay in because the extra bed she has is not comfortable for me. She did not find a motel…she made herself and her other half sleep on the extra bed so that I could be comfortable. In her own house!

Growing up she took care of me as if I were her child and not her pain in the ass brother. She is responsible for naming me.

She is the foremost and certainly the #1 fan of T. Lloyd Reilly. She called me in a frenzy to tell me how wonderful it was that she had been able to go to a bookstore and buy a book that included a story I had contributed. She makes a point of telling all who will sit still and listen that her brother is a published author. If I had even a few fans that are just half as passionate about my search to be a full time writer, I would have publishing contracts galore. The first book with my work in it she made me sign…just as if I was some famous big shot writer. While signing it I heard her say, “This will be worth money someday.”

She is the only person in the world who does not freak out when I cry. I resist the need to shed tears in public, but not with her. She understands my hurt. She understands my frustration, and has no problem watching her brother cry. I am sure she thinks it is her job to comfort me when I am in distress. With the possible exception of my Dear Sainted Mother, she is better at it than anyone I have ever known.

I could not buy another predictable and mundane birthday card this year. I am struggling with life right now and the only one who really understands it is my sister. She has accepted the often times tedious chore of being a big sister with grace and kindness.

She reads every word I write and I hope she reads this and it gives her cause to smile. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PAULA. I LOVE YOU.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Unadulterated Astuteness

Meandering through my morning ritual of coffee, flatulence, and email, I happened upon an interesting ideal. The heart is actually the principal appendage by which we direct our lives. I found this in a spiritual newsletter I receive from a Franciscan priest of some note. Fr. Rohr wrote that he once encountered a surgeon that informed him of the following:

“There are 30,000 neurons surrounding the heart, and the electrical field of the head brain is only one tenth the size of the heart’s electric field. This makes the heart area the biggest “oscillator” and the biggest oscillator in any system always excites and determines the energy of all the other oscillations in the body.”

I have just finished a unit on the central nervous system in class and wondered about this claim. I did the proper research and found myself lost in the worlds of Wiki Answers, and academia. failed me terribly. None of the locations visited could offer any comprehensible evidence as to the veracity of the above-mentioned statement. I am but a part time scientist and not truly cultivated of all within the environs of the discipline. I know that much of science seems to be diametrically opposed to the more commonplace answers to questions of a spiritual nature. I know that most spirituality revels in the very art of sublime uncertainty, and the negation of scientific principles.

I speak of the heart quite often when I write. I am Irish and, as such, find myself driven by my emotions. This should come as no revelation to those who follow this blog on a regular basis. I thought about the statement and chose to believe it rather than giving credence to the conflicting reports of the easily confused and perpetually confounded members of the scientific community who have been studying the mind/body conundrum for decades. I like the idea of letting my heart drive my behavior.

I also like that the smile of a small child makes my heart warm. I like that I have found myself, at the tender age of fifty-seven, once more in love. (No, I will not tell anyone who it is until I tell her) I like that my heart has changed my taste in films and that same discernment has softened from gangster movies to chick flicks. I like that my heart still likes the idea that Sylvester Stallone can make a #1 hit movie. (Hurray for the old guys) I like that I can read and glean wisdom from a simple message given by a simple priest.

I like that it is my heart that hurts for my students who have graduated and are currently residing in the Mid-East and carrying firearms in order to receive remuneration for their services. I like that my heart is what makes me enraged at the evil and cruelty in the world. I like that it is my heart that makes me rejoice in the diversity of a world where it is acceptable to be alive regardless of age, race, creed, religion, or sexual identity. Well, the jury is still out on the sexual identity, but hope springs eternal…

I hear many times in my personal life that the longest journey one must take is the eighteen inches from the head to the heart. A standard axiom in twelve step programs, this tells me that I am in conflict unless I take action. The idea of neurons around the heart and the strength those oscillators exert on my being takes that conflict and makes it a moot point.

I have had a brawl going on in my head over the state of affairs in the world as it relates to the Moslem community. Someone wants to place a Mosque near the site of the 911 tragedy. Many of my friends are livid over this. These are people who I hold dear and love, and they are total incensed with the idea and have actually turned to suggesting violence be done to proponents of the project. American friends who proudly support the country and do not realize that the very country that we love guarantees that there can be a Mosque anywhere in the country. Adversely, what kind of simpleton would want to put themselves at risk by even thinking and giving voice to this kind of desire?

Why is it so hard to act reasonably? Why do we have to hate each other? Why can’t we take the energy that it takes the heart to fire thousands of neurons every minute in order to pump blood and apply it to a reasonable application of intelligent thought. It makes little sense to me that loving and caring people in my life wish to do harm to 1/3 of the population of the world.

Of course, there is plenty of motivation given the propensity of Islamic countries have where it comes to human rights. There are beautiful parts of the Islamic religion and we never here of them. What we hear is how religious police beat women for showing their ankles. We hear about honor killings and Jihad, and everything ugly, but none of the beauty.

Why? The heart and the brain are connected. Why the only thing the brain can think, are things that must the break the heart?

The religion that gave me comfort growing up has a long history of genocide, torture, and horrific immorality. Why do we not teach that to children in school the same way we tell them about Islamic atrocities?

Why can there not be equity between the heart and the brain? Answer that, and I can stop the journey and start the healing that my heart and mind desperately need. The same healing everyone else in the world seems to need…also desperately. Peace.