Marching to Souza

I always come back to the same mental problem: What am I missing? What do I need to change? What could be better?

I remember reading a quote in middle school saying that only a fool never changes his mind. I liked this. I grew up arguing with my younger sister on a daily basis, and in these arguments there were no rules. Something you said yesterday could certainly be held against you years later, even if your mind had been legitimately changed. I liked the idea of a freedom to pursue the truth, regardless of what I once thought. And rightly so! As a child, I was told that yoga was a cult religion, that a tall glass of milk a day was good for you, and that an overweight man would break in on the celebration of Christ’s birth and eat our food. We have to evolve if we want to understand real truth. But something occurred in my child mind that day that would shape my adult personality. At any point, I should be seeking to change myself, to modify my truth, to get it as close to The Truth as possible. It has been an exhausting ride, my friends.

So many of us take the complicated route to Truth. My husband Robert and I have had our share of filling the “God-Shaped Hole” with food and clothes. As we try to escape this existence, we justify smaller acts – “it’s not so bad if we use a Groupon!” “It’s the thrift store, I can buy whatever I want! Whee!” but none of these things delivered Truth.

Last night I was showing Robert and our dog Logan my progress in playing Moonlight Sonata, and we discussed the timing of certain parts. We searched the internet for various versions, and compared. This depressing song made us so happy as we focused only on it, like a meditation. Logan drowsed in and out of sleep, clearly a fan of the Classics. Then Robert asked, “what next?” – “Lacrimosa!” I yelled.

“Now what?” I asked, after that.

“Souza!” he yelled, jokingly. But it struck a chord. I was transported to my six-year-old existence, marching in the living room to an old record of Souza marches. “YES!”

And so we marched, and kicked, and jumped, like it was the Fourth of July. I channeled my child self last night – I was transported.

Truth is not out there. It is not found in the world. It isn’t even in family. It is within ourselves. Without the capacity to appreciate that family, that tree, that music, it is but clutter in our muddled minds. Let your Truth shine.

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Forgiveness

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mk 11:25

“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Mt 6:12

These statements are so, so simple to say, and easy enough to practice until we are faced with a true transgression, a friend or family member who has wronged us in a way we cannot even wrap our brains around. Sometimes it may have been intentional. Others, it may have been done mindlessly. This person, though they may not have meant to harm you, may still feel they have done no wrong, or feel unable to apologize out of pride. In these instances, forgiveness is not merely a momentary action but can become a long-term struggle, taking every ounce of your strength to muster it.

In these cases, there are four things that will help you to forgive.

  1. “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” – This usually stops me dead in my tracks. My anger loses momentum when I think of all the friends I have wronged in large and small ways, whether in action or in a simple look of disgust.
  2. Walk a mile in their shoes. – Even if you know they are wrong, you can reconcile at least with the fact that they are enduring some kind of internal struggle, where they actually believe they are right, or are having difficulty admitting it. This is a legitimate and common human struggle, of which we are all guilty to some degree.
  3. “I forgive you for God.” – You do not forgive because your transgressor “earned” it. You must forgive because you are kind, and because you yourself have been subject to forgiveness you did not earn.
  4. “I forgive you for me.” – Spare yourself the heartache. The day you get over this is the day you can move on with your life.

There, now doesn’t that feel better? Once you’ve truly forgiven, it becomes easier to do it again. Letting things roll off your shoulders, though to some considered passive, is the true nature of God, and the message Jesus left behind.

A New Chapter

I am now licensed to practice therapeutic massage in Ohio. I have turned down three jobs in two weeks, and I have two interviews this week. I could never have foreseen such a complete overhaul in my life. The progression of events has solidified my faith in God and the idea that nothing will fall into place until it’s the right time. Thanks to my previous employer, I’ve had a month and a half of paid time to look for new jobs in a completely different industry. After four long years, God handed this one to me on a platter.

Corporate America beat me down. Though I have the appropriate degree and management experience, I had been pegged at a certain level, with a certain monetary limit to what I was worth, and it wasn’t generous. I applied for jobs for years. Nothing. I tried playing the game. Nothing I mean what does a resume really say about a person? It certainly doesn’t convey innovation, intuition, loyalty in the truest sense, or other such intangible qualities. And it is these qualities I possess in abundant amounts. So screw THEM. A month and a half into my unemployment, my confidence has soared. At 18, the world was at my fingertips. At 22, I felt I had the skills to take on the business world. At 24 I felt I had nothing to offer, and at 26 I realize I have everything, but rarely will others appreciate my finer qualities. I am naturally a confident person, but I also internalize my surroundings. I understand why it is so important to surround yourself with supportive people. Working on MY goals with MY time has allowed me to reach a new state of mind. And the other day, I went to the thrift store and bought new pants… in my size. No more fitting into a job that is too small for me. I’m wearing big girl pants.

So many of us do a so-so job for so-so pay to afford a so-so life. But I’m so-so done with the so-called American Dream with the house and the constant state of one-upsmanship and resentment of others’ good fortune. At this stage in my life, Beatles songs seem to be seeping into my daily positive self-talk: “all you need is love.” “Just let it be, sis.” “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” The last one usually pops up at the grocery store, but that’s another story.

My husband and I have been happier in the past month, with half our pay and no benefits, than we ever were in a manufactured stable “successful” life.