Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Joshua Tree

I always liked this story; I don’t know who actually wrote it because I heard versions of it that had to have been written long before Tom Waits was born, which is the one I'm going to tell. It’s a little different than his but, I think he’s the one who takes credit for it these days, so give credit where credit is due if it’s Mr. Waits. Ours came from a book of fables.  It was called the fable of the Joshua tree back in my day and I always loved it. Now that I'm older I realize Joshua trees don't grow where logging trees are that I know of..but "never my mind", like Sydney used to say when she was little.  It goes like this.

Long, long ago, in a dense forest there were thousands of tall, and beautifully perfect trees. They were so proud of themselves; after all, they were God’s chosen ones, that was obvious. They were straight and stretched towards the heavens with open arms and closed spirits.
Among them here and there, were a few ugly trees compared to the magesty of the perfect trees. The Joshua trees branches were twisted and gnarled. The roots were sticking out of the ground on some, and the limbs were uneven and bent.  All the beautiful trees made fun of these ugly trees.
“Are you hunchbacks?” “You’re so ugly you couldn’t get a job at a haunted house”!  Oh, the teasing never stopped.  The laughter coming from above made the ugly trees feel sad and useless.  But, they never said much, what good would it do? They quietly believed God had a purpose for their lives too. But the ugly trees did spend more time than they should have(nobody's perfect) wishing they were as beautiful as the other trees, and asking why God let this happen to them?  They asked, "what good am I,  I can never provide shade to the travelers, or even nests  for the birds in my crooked, prickly, twisted branches".  Nobody needed them it seemed!
Woodcutters came to the forest one day, driving their huge logging trucks. That site  was pretty much any trees worst nightmare!  After looking over both the straight and crooked trees, surprisingly, the boss logger shouted out, "Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest."  Another woodcutter shouted back, “The tall trees are really some beauties boss, you’re right… we gotta have ‘em.”  Chop, chop, chop went the woodcutter’s axes and one by one the tall trees started to fall. “None of us is going to be spared,” screamed one of the beautiful trees!  Soon that tree too was brought to ground by the woodcutter’s axe. There was an eerie silence in the forest now.
 The woodcutters turned all the straight trees into lumber that day. They became things like toothpicks and toilet paper. And the crooked trees are still there, growing stronger and stranger, and more twisted every day.
 The moral to the story was that God has a plan for all of us, no matter what we look like or how things seem at the moment. We should always be gracious and kind and accept all people while we wait for the big picture to unfold..
 A couple of summers ago, Lori Moore and I drove through the Joshua trees on our way to San Diego and I thought of this fable. I thought I have to remember to tell that one to the kids! Guess you’re all "the kids" today. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mental Floss

Have you ever had a friendship you thought would never, ever end? Instant death too, I’m talking about! Not the typical, “we drifted apart when she had children and I didn’t”. Not, “I moved” or “she moved”… nothing like that. I had a twenty year friendship that ended that way, ten years ago. She disappeared out of my life and it’s a cold case file.  Out of the blue,  she just wouldn’t come to the phone, wouldn’t call me back, wouldn’t answer my cards and letters I sent asking,  and finally begging, her to tell me what was wrong?  
          I have no enemies that I know of.  Oh, I have people who don’t like me for whatever reasons,  I’m sure,  but  I don’t stay mad long,  and I try and work out disagreements that inevitably happen between people. When they can’t be worked out, I can easily “agree to disagree” and respect their side of what you don’t see eye to eye on.  I choose to keep my own opinion without winning them over.  For me to be cut off from someone, so important to my everyday life was much like a divorce although maybe those of you who’ve had one of those, are thinking, “ya right”! It’s like a stranger than life case you see on TV. You know where the person goes missing.  Someone you’d least expect to do that. They never get in contact with you. There’s no ending, no answers and no justice.
          I grieved the loss of her like a divorce or death. I drove my family and some of her family crazy, bending their ear about what should I do to fix what I didn’t know was broken?  I must have done something horrendous, but what, I ask myself?  Why don’t I get a chance to at least defend what I did… if I did something, said something, didn’t do something, or should have done something! Whatever it was I blamed myself, I obviously did something!  
           I comforted  her after she lost a baby, she comforted me when I had a miscarriage, we shared all our sons t-ball games, baseball games, proms, school programs, girls nights out, birthday parties. One of the nicest cards I’d ever gotten in my life I got from this her, with a whole page written about how much she depended on my friendship. I just threw it away, last time I was in Minot. It took me that many years to part with it.  
          I went through all the stages of grief, and then anger. Anger, that she would do this to my kids too. Make them question what friends are, and drop out of their lives. I’d move forward in grief and then fall back to feeling sorry for myself.  Self-remorse, self-hatred that has always been my mantra for everything wrong in my life.  Whatever I must have done or said haunted me.
        If you are going through grief for any kind of loss, the stages of grief are:
 1-Denial-"this can't be happening to me", not accepting or even acknowledging the loss. (I rationalized something must be going on with her husband, he never did like me, the fat friend.)  
 2-Anger-"why me?" or feelings of wanting to fight back, or get even with spouse of divorce, for death, anger at the deceased, blaming them.
3-Bargaining-bargaining often takes place before the loss if it’s one you’re expecting, but can happen after the loss as well. Attempting to make deals with God to stop or change the loss. Begging, wishing, praying for them to stay come back.
4-Depression -overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self-pity, mourning loss of person as well as the hopes, dreams.
 5-Acceptance - there is a difference between resignation and acceptance. You have to accept the loss, not just try to bear it quietly. Realization that the person is gone.
I finally chalked it up to insanity. I reviewed everything I tried to do. I contacted her probably six times. I decided, I did all I can do. I finally cut the string and let the hot air she’d filled me with float away.  I turned my goal toward my own personal growth. Not going to say I don’t have a scar there on my tree trunk because I do, but I’m ok with it.  
         Strange thing is this friend had a history of not talking to her family members for years at a time, but I never thought she’d do that to me! Isn’t that bizarre in hindsight that I didn’t think she’d do it to me? Don’t you have to do something? She has a sister she hasn’t spoken to for nine years.  Maybe you are thinking, what was I thinking, being friends with her in the first place? But she was a well-liked, respected person and has a lot of people duped into thinking she is sincere.
         Lately, she has been leaving comments under my face book comments, because we know a lot of the same people.  I blocked her so I don’t even see her name. Now she is contacting my kids to be Facebook friends.  Feels a little like having some screws turned into you one crank at a time.
          Am I wrong, not wanting her anywhere around my kids, my family or my life? I finally digested all the pain from that, decided I am not going to let her treat me like I’m disposable, and I really don’t want her in my life anymore. I don’t think about her and I don’t want to start, because we all know I have an obsessive mind. I have never let myself that close to any girlfriend again. I’m the jilted lover that stayed single ha.  Actually that was kind of the end of girlfriends for me. I have some girlfriends, but I keep myself an arm’s length away.
         I feel somewhat unChristian like saying I don’t want her back in my comfort zone, but I don’t. I don’t want an apology, I don’t want to see her name and I don’t want to hear about her. For years I was asked about her every time I ran into people.  If I unexpectedly bump into her sometime, I have no idea how I’ll feel or act. Like I said I like everyone… so it’s new territory for me not to just be friendly.
        This blog is a stress reliever, a way to let things go. Her requesting my kids today makes me feel like she’s too close to my world. I used to want an explanation, then an apology and even though I feel she owes me that… I don’t want it now.  I have higher standards for myself these days! I listened when Dr. Phil said, “when someone shows you what they are the first time, believe it”! I am taking the advice I’d give my kids if they were in this situation, which would be “stay away, you don’t need to be brought down by mean girls. I don’t either.

There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, and people we can't live without but have to let go.  ~Author Unknown