On Friendship

Do you have fair-weather friends? Are you a fair-weather friend? A fair-weather friend is one who disappears when you really need her; one who is suddenly too busy when you have money or relationship problems. A true friend will hold your hand when your husband is unfaithful; will buy you lunch when you are broke; will let you sleep on her couch when you get evicted. She will listen without judgment when you admit your latest downfall; hug you close and supply tissues when life gets you down. She will give you critical feedback on your resume when you have lost your job, and send you leads from everyone she knows. If there is a death in the family, a true friend is the one who shows up at the door to iron your clothes and polish your shoes; to take care of your kids while you take some time out in a hot bath to compose yourself. True friends are hard to find, so if you have one, call her and let her know how much she means to you. If you are a true friend, give yourself a big hug; you are a gem.

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Attitude again

How did you get to where you are today? Would you be who you are today if all your experiences had been positive? It has been said that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger (Friedrich Nietzsche) but is that really true?

I know that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the experiences I have encountered in my life, good and bad.  I truly believe that, as Dolly Parton said, if you want to have the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain. Life is a journey through good times and bad. If we don’t have the darkness, we don’t appreciate the light. And just because we have light, doesn’t mean that darkness doesn’t exist; just because we have food doesn’t mean there isn’t hunger in the world.

We can’t expect to only have good times or only have bad times. We have to believe that the bad times will end; that the good times may be fleeting but we must enjoy them. All of us experience events differently; what may be good for one may be bad for someone else. We cannot judge what someone else feels by how we feel about the same thing. Our experiences are different; our emotional makeup is different; we are unique. So how do some people survive horrendous events and others don’t? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that our attitude has a huge influence on how we view events. I have seen people devastated by divorce who spend the rest of their lives angry and resentful. I have seen others who use the experience as a stepping stone to a better life.

I try to put a positive spin on everything (like Pollyanna??) but I believe that in the long run, it serves me well.

Civility

When did civility and manners disappear from our lives? I can remember a time when people could sit and discuss their differences without resorting to name calling, or refusing to listen to what another person had to say, or telling someone they were wrong just because they didn’t agree with one’s own beliefs and opinions. I mourn for the death of civility and manners.

People seem to be so polarized that they won’t read, or listen to, a different point of view. Is it the proliferation of talk radio? Is it the fact that anyone can post on a web site and gain a following? Is it because the political arena has become so mean and nasty? Is it because the far right and the far left are gaining most of the attention?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is that things are so twisted that it’s impossible to have a rational conversation about much of anything any more. People are angry, and rightfully so, but I think a lot of the anger is being misdirected. And there are people out there who are taking advantage of the anger by directing their followers to hate anybody who disagrees with them. Why?

Religion is also playing a big part in the hate and anger. For example, in a few communities where Muslims have been living for years, the townspeople are up in arms because they want to build a new mosque. I don’t know a lot about Islam, but I do know that it, like Christianity or Judaism, can be perverted into extremism. There are people of all faiths who will take to the extremes, or focus on only one part of their religion’s sacred text to justify what they do. Should we hate all Baptists because Fred Phelps is an extremist? Should we hate all Muslims because a few hate us? Should we hate all Jews because Jesus was spurned by them? We live in a country where we are free to practice any religion or none, so why are we against all non-Christians?

I think much of the hate comes from ignorance of what we hate; and it comes from misguided people whipping others into a frenzy; the mob mentality, if you will.

I don’t remember hearing hate taught in Church when I was growing up. I don’t remember hate being taught in Sunday School. I do remember being taught to love all of God’s children, whether they were Christian or not. Where did that go?

Music

I love music; it can match my mood or change it depending on what I’m listening to. It can also calm me and distract me; make me laugh and make me cry.  I listen to a lot of different music from classical to rock to reggae to jazz, folk, and bluegrass. There are times I want to listen to something in particular; there are other times I enjoy putting my iPod on shuffle and just listening to whatever comes up. William Congreve, in his poem The Mourning Bride, written in 1697, said:  “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” (Often misquoted as to soothe a savage beast!)
In movies, the music can signal what is coming – the rising crescendo in a horror movie for example, or the plaintive melody that accompanies a sad ending. These same pieces of music can affect us whenever we hear them, perhaps calling to mind the particular scene in the movie. Or perhaps we can hear a song that reminds us of what we were doing when we heard it. Or perhaps the song just moves us in a particular way. My most favorite song of all time is “Unchained Melody”, but only when sung by the Righteous Brothers; any other rendition doesn’t move me like their version of it.
My favorite blue-mood music is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. But again there are several different versions of this piece; my favorite has real bells and cannon. Somehow, the electronic simulations of bells and cannon take away from the piece. One of my favorite memories of the 1812 is attending a Fourth of July concert on the levee in Baton Rouge when the kids were young. The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra played perfectly; the bells and cannon were perfectly synchronized. I remember getting goose bumps and tearing up at the perfection of the piece. I still listen to the 1812 if I am particularly depressed and need some uplifting.
My tastes in music are admittedly eclectic; I love hearing new artists and new pieces. I may not like them, but at least I gave them a try. Life is sort of like that; unless we venture out into uncharted waters, how do we know what we will like? I know too many people who just say, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t like that’! How do they know unless they try? I think their minds are closed to new experiences; they prefer to stay where they are and be ‘safe’. How boring that would be for me!