Saturday, April 25, 2009

A perfect Saturday afternoon

Sunshine, temps in the 80s. I'm out in my yard, with the windows open and the radio on (speakers facing out as I weed the driveway), listening to the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway.

Even better: Varitek hits a grand slam in the 4th.

Friday, April 10, 2009


We’ve all got something—a disease, a condition, an emotional upset, financial difficulties, an ailment of some kind. And we all have our ways of managing that thing that is poisoning our lives, from advanced medical therapies to whining out loud to friends and family (and anyone else who will listen) to just suffering in silence, hoping that things will improve.

When I was younger, when things seemed bleak I used to wish I could just go to sleep for a few months, until whatever was troubling me was past. I remember reading a fairy tale about a princess who went to sleep when she was eight years old and woke up when she was twelve—the first thing she did was run to the piano and play a tune she had learned while she was asleep, when she also developed fluency in several languages. She slept through the entire learning process. If only we could do that (selectively of course, as I love the process of learning new things), so we could get through hard times more easily.

Since I can’t just take a really long nap, I have come to accept these principles for getting through difficult times, no matter the cause of the hardship:
  • Recovery has no set timetable. It takes as much time as it takes. Make no apologies.

  • Even though other people may think that it’s time for you to move on, until you’re ready to or your condition has improved, you can’t. So don’t worry about what other people think (although you might consider taking pity on your closest friends and bring the whining down a bit—it’s hard for them to keep biting their tongues).

  • Try not to let things fester: this goes for infected cuts and old resentments.

  • If there is help available, take advantage of it.

  • If you’ve done everything you can think of to remedy the problem and nothing is working, just stop. Rest. Try to be patient.

  • Sometimes you have to fully surrender to a problem before it can be resolved. That doesn’t mean giving up, it means accepting that what is, is.

  • Get clear on the true definition of the problem. Sometimes you think you’re struggling with one thing then it turns out, when you really examine it, that it’s about something else entirely.

  • Manage the symptoms, treat the disease.

  • Sometimes the answer is “better living through chemistry.” This applies to cancer drugs, antidepressants, HRT, acne lotion, foot fungus powder, and wart remover, among other things. No shame in that.

  • It’s not your fault. No doubt you are doing your best to overcome the problem.

  • Don’t be ashamed. True, someone else might manage the situation more efficiently, more privately, with less sturm und drang. But they’re not walking in your shoes, living your life, managing your demons. No one from the outside can accurately assess and understand what is going on inside you—and besides, it’s really none of their business.

  • Avoid people who are openly unsupportive or critical of the way you’re handling things. They will only make you feel worse about everything, including yourself.

  • You probably can’t think your way out. Most of the time the only way out is through, so do your level best to suck it up and soldier on.

  • And this too shall pass.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mating Season

Woke up this morning to find two dozen turkeys in my driveway. The scene looked like a funky singles bar—the male turkeys were all strutting around, fanning their tails and doing the “Look at me, Turkey Girl” routine, and the female turkeys were ignoring them. The flock strolled slowly down the driveway as they did their mating dance.

It made me laugh, and then I remembered the turkeys that hung around my backyard most of last summer. There was a female turkey and 12 babies. She was an patient, vigilant mother; she kept a close eye on her brood as they wandered around the property, nibbling on bugs they found in the grass. Sometimes she would settle herself on the lawn and rest, with all of the chicks hidden under her wings.

As the weeks went by, there were fewer and fewer chicks; the coyotes had moved in. First there were 12, then 10, then 9, then 6, then 5, then 4, and finally, the last time I saw them, there were just three young turkeys left, wandering in the grass under their mother’s watchful eye.