Wednesday, June 25, 2008

P4E.077 The Debt That All Men Pay

Tim Russert is dead. He died of a heart attack a week ago. Russert was the popular, tough questioning moderator of NBC's Sunday morning political show, Meet the Press and NBC News Washington bureau chief. He was the hot topic in the days following his death and is now all but forgotten in the world's fast-paced, short-lived news cycle. He's buried now, just north of Washington D.C.

I bring Russert up because of his age at the time of his death. He was 58. If I were to die at age 58 it would mean that I would have only 7 years of life left. It's a sobering thought. We really don't know when our time will come. I used to think that I had time to change. Time to process. Time to make a new start. Time to have a positive impact on my wife and children. Time to get my priorities straight. At the time of his death, I'm sure that the upcoming presidential election was foremost on Russert's mind. Now, he'll never know who the 44th President of the United States will be. And if he is somehow now able to know, I doubt that it matters to him anymore.

Russert's death has made me feel a new sense of urgency. I feel uneasy and that I don't want to have any (more) regrets when my time comes. A line from one of our favorite movies goes,

"There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember, time is short, and suddenly, you're not here any more."

So, I'm re-committing to doing and saying all the things that I would wish. To doing as much as I can in the time that I have before I make good on the debt that all men pay. Thank you and God bless you, Tim Russert!

My wife, Gwen, will read this and tell me,

"Kim, that's all fine and good, but actions speak louder than words, spoken or written. JUST DO IT!!"

I will.

Peace, Kim

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

P4E.076 In the Dark

I was sitting on the bedroom floor in the dark, my back against the bed, staring straight ahead, trying to sort out what had just occurred...

"If you've never listened to me before, you need to listen to me now!!" my wife, Gwen, had said. "You need to go down to his room and talk to him right now!! You need to apologize and ask him to forgive you or you'll lose him too!"

She was talking about our son David. David had driven his date in our shiny, red BMW to his high school prom. There had been a minor accident on the way. No one had been hurt. I thought I had handled the initial hearing of the story well. But, as time went by, I started to have unanswered questions in my mind. Gwen and David and I eventually were in the living room talking about the accident. I started asking my questions. I wasn't hearing answers that I liked. My voice became more strained. The questions came faster. My impatience and anger were rising. I was frustrated because I wasn't understanding the sequence of events, which car was where, who might have been at fault. "How could it happen that way?" The message I sent to David was that I didn't believe him; that I thought he was lying to me. Finally, exasperated and angered by my interrogation and the fact that I wasn't accepting his answers, David's eyes filled with tears and he fled to his bedroom.

"...You need to go down to his room and talk to him right now!!"

I resisted. Why should I apologize? I didn't wreck the car! He should be upset! He was careless. He wrecked the shiny, red Beemer. Was he going to pay to fix it? Only much later would I think about how his whole prom night had probably been ruined by the thought that he would have to face me.

"'ll lose him too."

I'd already pushed our oldest son, Jon, away. I'd lost all credibility with him. Jon (rightly) thought I was a hypocrite. His disdain for me and for Christianity was plain. I was so callous that I wasn't responding to that situation.

" need to listen to me now!!"

I had recently heard that I was to change my attitude towards my wife and see her not as the enemy, but as help. She was truly better at understanding relationships than I was. David didn't have a track record of lying that should cause me to suspect him of doing so now. I needed to value him and our relationship more than the thing (BMW). My anger and impatience had always gotten me into trouble. I needed to change. I needed to do something different. I needed to go to him.

But, what would his response be? I wouldn't forgive me if I were him. If I were him, I would be pretty angry myself. I realized that I was afraid that he'd cuss me out and kick me out of his room. I was afraid that he wouldn't forgive me. I was afraid that I'd already lost him.

I went into the kitchen. Gwen watched me as I got a glass of water, waiting to see what I would do. I set the glass down and set off for David's room. I opened the door and found him laying on his bed, face down into his pillow. I sat on the bed. "David, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have questioned you that way. It's just a car. You're more important to me. I know you've never lied to me..." David sat up quickly and lunged at me...threw his arms around my neck...buried his face on my shoulder...and burst into tears. His whole body heaved as big, gut wrenching sobs came from his throat. My eyes filled with tears as I stroked his hair and back and said "It's OK....It's OK, Dave...."

I don't even remember how I left that room or how I came to be sitting on the floor of the darkened bedroom. The door opened and the light from the hallway pierced into the black. I kept staring ahead, but I could see the silhouette of Gwen's legs and feet come into my teary peripheral view. "Thank you, Gwen. Thank you for telling me what to do. I had no idea...." It was the first time I'd ever really thanked her for her help. But it wouldn't be the last.

Peace, Kim

This was re-posted to L.L. Barkat's On, In and Around Mondays on 11.15.10

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

P4E.075 Horse Sense for People

(This is the 14th and last in the predator/prey series, although I may return to the subject from time to time.)

This post is devoted to quotes taken from the book "Horse Sense for People" by Monty Roberts, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2001. I refer you to that book because Monty Roberts is someone of substance from whom I have drawn many of my ideas. Monty makes me feel comfortable and confident that I'm not the only one who sees things the way I do.

Monty refers to himself as a "horse gentler." He can take what people refer to as an "unbroken" horse and have a saddle and rider up on its back consistently in a little over half-an-hour without using restraint or violence of any sort. For those of you who don't know much about horses, that's an amazing accomplishment. Monty describes something that happens with nearly every horse at some point during that short process:

"The horse turns towards me, walks in close and reaches out to touch my shoulder with its nose. At this precise moment I often hear a gasp from the crowd...Oftentimes women are reduced to tears at the sight of a flight animal accepting and trusting a potential predator. This is no coincidence: it happens too often."

Later Monty gets down to human relationships...

" can describe humans as predators, but humans can also be passive, nonviolent and nonaggressive. This curious and perhaps unique mixture of fight and flight, prey and predator is almost always present in our relationships and communications. Women, in particular, have a great ability to identify with the hunted and therefore with horses."

"Male predatorial behavior is far more common than most people would imagine, and it happens in our apparently enlightened society on a scale that I find difficult to comprehend...Women in and out of the workplace are often preyed upon. It is little wonder that women identify with the flight animal."

"The thousands of letters sent to me tell a sad story of the continuing existence of abuse of all kinds, predominantly in the home. How long will it take to raise awareness that violence is never the answer? Many women who watch my work will remark that they wish this lesson could be learned by the male of our species. When a man learns that a nonviolent approach can be far more effective-for himself as well as the prey animal-he understands how wrong violence is."

Amen to that. Peace, Kim

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

P4E.074 Change

(13th in a series on predator patterning)

Barack Obama is running for President on a platform of "change." Change for the good on a national level is a lofty goal. Except for maybe Obama, we individually have little ability to bring about change (for better or worse) on a national level. Please don't get me wrong. I'm the first to say, "chase your dream." If you believe you can change the world for the better, then chase your dream.

What I am saying is that change for the better starts on a very personal, intimate level. Otherwise, we leave the door open for hypocrisy. For instance, if I publicly take a strong stance against the continuing war in Iraq, but am waging a war of my own at home with my wife, I could rightly be accused of hypocrisy.

Predators do not change. They are very consistent. They act on instinct. They perform according to their predator patterning. Therefore, if I am not to be perceived as a predator, I must:
Step 5: Change for the Better.

Change for the better on a personal level is a lofty goal. I have to be self-aware enough to know that what I am is not "good enough." Ken Nair refers to the "good enough" attitude as "semi-Christlike." My help (read wife) is a good gauge to let me know where I'm falling short. I've never met wife who's said, "I can't stand it. My husband just gives too much!"

Motivation to change is challenged by the Laws of Motion. If my life is moving in a certain direction it's going to take a force to change its direction. The heavier the aspect of my life the more force it will take to change its direction. It takes work and most of us men are not motivated to change if it takes much work.

"...A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' And he answered 'I will not'; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, 'I will, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" Matthew 21:28-31

This is the Scriptural version of the maxim, "Actions speak louder than words." They do. I'm challenged by Scripture to change the way I think, act and talk:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man..."
Jesus Christ

"Then the LORD said...if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."
Genesis 4:7 (underline mine)

I am not saying that we need to change from predator to prey. No one wants to be preyed upon. As I said earlier, we are all of us prey to the enemy who would devour us, but we don't have to like it or perpetuate it. I am saying that we need to stop acting like predators towards those who are close to us and who might be considered prey.

Peace, Kim