A place where the path is not certain and all things are connected. Think three dimensional Spider web, like a hollow lattice frame to fill in with your own experiences and life story. Share with a friend and then talk about the things they see and the difference with what you see... you will know your friend better then... Enjoy, or set the story aside if it isn't time. It is ok. Thanks for the visit. Comment about your thoughts, someone else needs to hear it.
Onions and Friends...
The conversation was ranging and enjoyable. We had been talking for more than an hour, as typical for me, when there was a change in the eye and the tone of the voice. We had just shifted. It is not new that this takes place, but it is not always observed by both parties. The topic is irrelevant, but the process is always the same. Surprises come as you get closer to the issues that have merit.
We talked and the questions come, and they are joined with the answers. Ring by ring we proceed. Here is an interesting note. The rings have a meat layer which is thick, but also a thin membrane which proceeds it. In a conversation it is the “permission” layer. That point of vulnerability that must be obtained before going to the actual issue behind it. Some will not pay attention and will simply blunder past the signals of resistance and the result is a damaged relationship. There are indeed times and people that are allowed to do this. They are specific and only used in a time of great distress. For example, the fireman that is taking the small girl out of the burning home that is in great danger as she is concerned for her pet. The Fireman will continue while judging the amount of time needed to rescue both, then will choose the girl if the timeframe is done. The same with a vet that is doing a procedure on an animal will continue the exam ignoring the angry protests of the pet until finished. This type of act is needed in these types of situations. Blundering across another’s vulnerable story to put your own there or diminish theirs is an uncouth and common thing done by the less skilled among us. It is actually part of the learning process for us all.
The twist comes when there is more than one center, and you didn’t know it. As onions have different value for different people and different situations. For the making of Onion Rings for an appetizer, you need rings. For soup makers your needs are simply for a chopped onion. As such the people that sell these onions sort them into a few types. Single Center. 1-3 Centers, 3-5 Centers. The 1-3 Yellow onion is the common restaurant and grocery store version. The 3-5 Center version is commonly known as a “chopper”, so processors use them. The price reflects the value. It is the same for friends and conversations. Some are simply a one-track conversation, others are more wide ranging in their topics and some are all over the map. These folks will be lots of fun but never focus. The others may have good value on a few or a single topic, but then be of little value if you need specific knowledge.
So too, when they are wounded and vulnerable and you are trying to find out what is going on. You may think you have it going in the right direction and then find out it is only one of a few topics that need addressed. I have been caught off guard by the introduction of these additional topics as I had not expected them to be connected… and yet they were. If you have cut a Red Onion in half, you will know what I am talking about. Most all of them are multiple center onions. This is fine as mostly they are a decorative item in a salad or some other dish. It is less fine to get to the center of a problem in the story of your friend. Or yourself. You may not even realize that it is there at the level it is until someone else peels back the covering layers to expose it.
In my own case, I was pretty aware, but had a list of reasons to not show them. I would also use them as diversions to keep the conversations from getting to close to the topics that needed to remain hidden. I got quite good at it. I would even open the layer to a side topic, intentionally to act as a way to divert the conversation away from the actual pain I was in. My skill level is quite high. If you have read the CS Lewis book “The Screwtape Letters” you will see the actions taken by Screwtape to divert his charge with the thought of hunger. Very deft trick indeed. It works on children as well. Perhaps you too have done the thing, to avoid the hard conversation. Perhaps simply because you know that person to be shallow and incapable of the demands that the story expects of the listener.
An interesting side note is that while I may have believed that about someone, I have also been very wrong about them as well. I simply didn’t give them a chance. Stories of great daring do in times of darkness and pain that would take out a lesser soul. Stories of sorrow and struggle and of a duration that is the stuff of legend, and yet they are living life reasonably carefree. It is only a little scratch to get to the story that you know is real and yet unbelievable. Stories of a life that has the drama and struggles and sorrows and yet a resolve and resulting sweetness that they will even allow you to hear of them. Soon you are humbled by the shame of believing such are inadequate for your own tales. Soon enough you are also humbled by the ability of them to survive let alone thrive in the living of it. Gracious is not the same as shallow.
How then will I know the centers of the one I see? Well, the onions are sorted with an optical and infra-red scanner. So it is with us. We would use the words and the tones instead of infra-red, and who among us can know the intentions, even our own. The shape of the conversation, the turns it takes and the time allowance are all part of the scanning that is going on. There is a reason that you call that one person when in turmoil. And other reasons you don’t call someone else. Perhaps you don’t feel worthy, or perhaps they are not. Some people are good at carrying boxes. Some are well suited to carry burdens of a different sort. You know which one to call and when.
What are we to do with this? This observation of tones and body language? Well, keep in contact and add some new stories. Perhaps they didn’t tell about that time in the dessert as it hadn’t come up yet. Perhaps the introduction of your own vulnerability will elicit one from them in return. Perhaps your own story of failure will bring out the opportunity to hear theirs. You know the saying, “first liar doesn’t stand a chance”, well it works a bit here as well. Go first and see the result. If nothing, perhaps there is none, perhaps it isn’t time, or perhaps you are not the one. It works in reverse as well. All good, as you don’t have to save the world. The rest of the world is not needing all of your stories. Baggage from the past is simply a story that has not found a listener that will also clear up the issue of injustice. That is the reason it stays around. Injustice is the gate that when opened up will let out the pressures that have been building. It is the same with an onion. The onions produce gas and to keep it in a container is hard. If you have put a cut onion in the fridge you will know when you open the door.
So then, it comes to this. Your old wounds give off a gas that alerts others to its existence. Some will notice sooner than others. Be aware as both the teller of, and the listener too, another one’s stories. You may be surprised at what you find.
In Times Like These “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” or so the poet says. Part of the problem that we confront is that we are new to this part of history, so it feels unknown and scary. When you are confronted with the “unknown” it is called chaos, and out of that comes truth and awareness that is new to you. It is found when a child is taken to meet a new friend and they are wary of all that is new. It isn’t new, really, though it may be to the child or to us. This may be the year of the internet millionaire or the Covid small business death, but it is your year. Alone in the way that it is yours, and yet collective in that many can tell the same story. It is the time of our lives. Your story is simply that, your own. From the beginning of your life through the teaching and experiences that brought you too today, it is specific. Good or bad, long or short. Well-seasoned, with history as perspective or simply the musings of the narcissist absorbed with you
On Divorce This is not a complete work, but a few observations. It is not all personal, but it is all true. It is about the parts that move, and the ones that don’t. The issue, at its core, is that of failure. Failure to listen, failure to tell. Failure to hear what is not said, and to do things that drive you to the edge of hope or fear. The church doesn’t know what to do with it. Society doesn’t know what to do with it. Those that are adamant about how correct they are, are the most afraid of it happening to them. Our friends are unclear about what to do with it when it happens. Most of the time it is only a trail of loss and the crumbs of our past strewn along as we go. The rending of the fabric of our relationships and lives is a sound you cannot not remember. You can imagine the lamb that has it's tail docked and has to re-orient its life and adapt to the new reality. No one wins, but some have hope of the pain stopping, and the possibility of
The purpose of this blog is to send out a piece of writing from time to time, mostly each week. It is a path of randomness (the rabbit trail) and yet is connected to many other parts (the spiderweb). In this case the web is three dimensional (more random connections) and has at times been a place some people have gotten lost trying to follow the trail... I hope you will be fine with having to start over and see if you get the point. Most of these writings are personal, I have never published any, and are simply a framework for you to put your own story into. If you were to print them most are 2 pages or so, so they are a reasonable quick read. That doesn't mean they are simple, just short. While personal, they are not a diary, polemic, or a screed about some political high-horse issue, but then too, neither should the comments be that either. The best part of these is that if any particular one is of little value to you, I am fine with it. Simply come back and see if ther
Crucible Why is it always a surprise how hot things get and so quickly? Crisis builds slowly and then all of a sudden it is intense and endless. The story is always the same. Things are simply going the way things go, and then three separate decisions combine and all hell is raging and your hair is on fire. It comes as a surprise, or I would have been prepared. Why am I surprised, again? Friends suck, that is why it hurts. That is why you are not prepared. That is why you were guarded. How then did it happen again? What did you miss, that let them get past the barriers? The heat will not let up, this I know from the last time. Ok, the last several times… Here I am, in the vessel filled with the debris of many bad decisions. Good parts and bad. Broken and whole. The heat will melt it all into a soup that will easily pour into a new mold. First will come the flux that grabs what I thought was important and take it away. It has happened time and again and it is the same eve
Worthy Deserved is a word I don’t like much. People will loosely bandy about the word in glib applications, in a “but of course” kind of manner. You know the type of use, that “you deserve” that prize, or job, or token of recognition. After a conversation with a cancer survivor the word took on the question of having “deserved” that? Was it a punishment, to have done something that was so egregious that cancer was the thing that was “deserved? To make a list of this type of result will set you back if you think about it too long. Children stolen off of the street never heard from again. Soldiers that come home and those that don’t. Those that do, but are not as when they were deployed. Is “deserved” the result of some cosmic lottery pick that they have been given? There needs to be a better thought. When the issue of an ordeal of some nature, larger than your own actions have brought about, the phrasing matters. So too the issue of the capricious nature of all that is invol
The Ring. The ring was distinct, the edges were clear. Round in the most normal of ways but specific in its own thickness. The ring was the result of time and the forces that formed it. Like others that had come before, it was natural and obvious in its growth and development, but larger this time. Not exactly a copy, but a continuation of those that had come before. This ring had variations that were the result of the forces that made it, individual and singular. The one that formed the ring would know of the details and the struggles and the time needed to complete it. And time moved on. The ring would show the evidence of all that was a part of that time but would be silent about it. The evidence would show in a time yet unknown. Many more rings would be formed before that day. The number can matter, but not to each ring. Each is a record of that which went into the form and size. The dryness or lush times that are told. The times of fire
The music It sat there, in the corner. Hasn’t been moved in years. The man that used it is gone, but the memories are still resonating, vivid and clear. I watched him play the accordion and was in awe of the music that he made. The polkas, of course, and the many happy dance tunes. But at times, in the most incredible ways, the tune would become something that would penetrate deeply and with great soul and the curious mix of disconnection. You would wonder “how can that tune come from that machine?” The accordion is not generally a mournful and melancholic machine, and yet there it was. The sound that pulled you in rather than pushed you around the dance floor. The box is curious, and how it came to be is a quirk of history and need and serendipity. It was used on the ships in the days of sail, and languid winds, to pass the time. That version was small and quite limited, but the function was the same. A few buttons on one end, to change the pitch