Discerning the Assumption

They tell you not to assume anything. But I disagree.

I’m job hunting now, and it is (as others have told me) a demoralizing experience. But I assume at the end of the my search I’ll have a job. If not, what would be the point of continuing?

Maybe that’s faith, not an assumption.

I have a friend who’s told me she doesn’t enjoy going to movie theaters. We’ve stopped inviting her, because we know what she’ll say. It’s not that she isn’t welcome, and we frequently let her know we’re going so she can include herself if she wants to go. But why ask the question when you’ve already been told the answer?

That’s common sense, not an assumption.

When I was in college, I took a course with no prerequisites. It was, I was told, a bottom-line, basic, true beginners class — no prior experience required. It also was a graduation requirement. Turns out everyone in that class — except me — already knew these basics, so the teacher taught at a higher level and left me behind. He believed I must know more than I thought I did. After all, I was bright enough.

Now that’s an assumption. Fortunately I took the course pass/fail and he graciously passed me. I didn’t learn a thing.

There are times when we assume things based on the facts we have, yet that information isn’t complete. It seems so obvious, so clear what the situation must be, until that puzzle piece that’s been missing appears. I’ve said it before. We don’t know what we don’t know.

How do we know when it’s faith, common sense or an unfair assumption? Look at who you’re depending on for the information. That will shed some light. The rest is life experience.

Which I’m assuming you have. Just kidding. If you don’t have it now, you will soon.


Assumption

Image Credit: © Bigstock.com
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A Time to Plant

Can’t see the forest for the trees.

I think that’s human nature, getting so caught up in the details of an issue that we don’t see the bigger picture. And sometimes that bigger picture is beyond the scope of our understanding. It might take years before we fully comprehend all that there is to know about a particular situation.

When multiple parties are involved, each with their own stake in what’s going on, it can be hard to understand the bigger picture. You know there’s a forest out there — heck, you’re smack dab in the middle of it — but all you can see are the trees, the facts that don’t necessarily seem to tie together.

But somehow they do.  Not necessarily in an orderly fashion, and at times the meaning remains obscure long after we leave those trees behind. That doesn’t mean there isn’t good in that forest.

It also doesn’t mean there isn’t bad. Sometimes the hard cold truth is people did things they simply shouldn’t have done, and their actions have an unfortunate impact in your life, or the life of someone you love. Sorting through that remains a challenge.

Those are the times you have to bring the good to the forest. Plant your own trees, and watch them grow. Take charge of the world around you. It doesn’t mean everything will suddenly be good and the pain will disappear, but it’s good to take control.

I know some of you are facing situations where you have little control — illness or injury, for example, that may or may not be treatable — and these words may sound trite. For that I apologize.

But few of us are 100 percent victims of our circumstances. There is a time for mourning, and a time for giving thanks. And a time for planting trees.


Image Credit: ©sara_winter – stock.adobe.com

 

Forest

Surviving a Rip Tide

God forbid I’m ever caught in a rip tide, but if I am, may God remind me how to survive it.

Sometime ago I was watching one of the news magazine programs and they talked about just that: what to do if you’re playing in the ocean and get carried away by a rip tide, or rip current. This is what I learned (and I looked it up again before writing this, so I’m confident with this information).

  • First, stay calm. Easier said than done, right? But panic is not your friend, especially when you’re being swept away.
  • Second, swim (or float on your back) parallel to shore until you escape the current. It doesn’t take as long as you might think or fear. People get themselves in trouble when they try to escape the current by swimming to the shore rather than parallel to it before the current breaks.
  • When you’re past the current. then swim to shore or float on your back until you’re rescued.

It seems to me there should be a parallel (pun intended) to difficult times in life. I tried to write one, but it came out sounding so phony — and wrong — that I gave up. Don’t panic, roll with it, move in a counterintuitive way. That’s a solution to something other than rip tides, no doubt, but I don’t know what.

So instead I’m leaving it with this, what to do if you’re pulled into a rip current. I pray you never need this information, but if you do, I pray you remember it.


Tide

Photo © Bigstockphoto.com

 

Astonish Me

I’m looking to be astonished.

Praying for it, actually. I want God to break open the heavens and say, “here it is!!” My faith tells me it can happen, but my faith is weak right now. So I’m praying for more faith.

How often are we blessed with astonishing news? Do we remember those blessings as well as we should? I know not all my followers share my faith, so I’m putting this in the context of life, not necessarily a belief in God. Do we tend to remember the bad news and accept the good news as our right?

Or perhaps that is an American way of thinking, even a white American way of thinking. I was born into more privilege than many people on this earth. Despite my struggles at this moment (I need a job!), I still enjoy a better life than others in war-torn, destitute countries and regions of this world.

I also have had my share of troubles and setbacks, and I’m struggling with some of those now.  It is impossible to define a balance of good and bad in our lives, and compare it to others.

Last week I was part of a discussion about happiness. The core of this conversation was the concept that money buys happiness. We all agreed, it takes a certain income, an element of security to be content with your lot in your life. That amount differs from person to person, of course, and much of it depends on where you live and what your needs are at any given time.

One man asked, “if money doesn’t buy you happiness, then why don’t the people with money give it away?”

Wow, what a question, and so many answers. I remember some thirty years seeing Donald Trump in an interview on Oprah. He was still married to Ivana — that’s how long ago it was (he’s had two wives since then and, as we know, a few other relationships). Anyway, he stated that after awhile, it isn’t about what you can buy, it’s a scorecard.

The man with the biggest bank account wins.

That’s a mentality I can’t buy into, and not to worry, it’s not likely to become an issue in this lifetime. But my point with this is, it isn’t simply the money that matters. Paying your bills and buying what you need isn’t the issue for those with great wealth. To whom much is given, much is required — but many seem to lose track of that requirement.

So I’m not asking to be astonished with great wealth. Rather, surprise me with the means to live a relatively simple life, that abililty to replace my worn shoes and keep my electricity from being shut off.

I’m praying, astonish me with that. I’m scared.


Image Credit: © GraphicStock.com

Astonish

 

My Lovely Moon

Go slowly, my lovely moon, go slowly.
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

The moon outside my window tonight. It’s more beautiful than any image my humble camera could capture, but it is my lovely moon.

Lovely moon, from age to age, you continue to lit our dark path, to inspire our hearts, to reflect a greater glory.

Go slowly.


Age

 

The Honor is All Mine

In honor of a former boyfriend’s birthday, I am telling the true story of the first of his birthdays we spent together, and a follow-up conversation we had after our breakup.

Honor is perhaps not the right word, unless you consider any honesty being honorable. I’m not giving real names.

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Dating Dan was a subtle seduction into becoming a verbal punching bag. The smile he initially greeted me with on our dates eventually became a disinterested glance, and I tried desperately to get us back to where we’d been. Until a pan of lasagna forced my eyes open.

It was Dan’s birthday, and I’d promised him the best lasagna he’d ever tasted. All afternoon I labored over boiling and simmering the sauce, cooking up the sausage, slicing the cheese and layering it all between the strips of pasta. I made breadsticks, watching the dough rise and twisting each piece into shape. When the cake cooled, I carefully decorated it. Add a vinaigrette dressing for the salad and a bottle of good wine. I surveyed what I had done, and was satisfied.

He arrived late, as usual, and I silently fretted that the breadsticks were no longer warm and the salad was looking a little limp. Still, my anticipation of his pleasure washed over me.

He took a bite of the lasagna, and grimaced. A few more bites were forced down.

Dinner

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“What is this meat?” he asked.

“Sausage.” Of course.

“Why would you put sausage in lasagna? You’re supposed to use hamburger.”

“Sausage is traditional in Italian cooking.”

“Who told you that? Why did you make this? Why didn’t you just go to the grocery store and buy some from the freezer?”

He continued to berate me and I stood there quietly. I was humiliated. I sought a response, but my mind went blank. Not that it mattered. Any words I could have found to defend myself would have stuck in my throat.

It didn’t stop that night. For the rest of the time we were dating, he never missed an opportunity to bring up the sausage (not hamburger) in the lasagna. Even after we broke up, on the sporadic occasions we saw each other, he continued, until one day it got out of control.

I’d taken care of his cat, Freddy, while he was on a business trip, something I was happy to do since I didn’t yet have a kitty of my own, and Freddy and I were good buds. Dan arrived home early, catching me still at his place, and almost immediately launched into a preposterous lasagna attack.

“Well, I had a free day, so I flew down to North Carolina to visit Tony,” he said, a little too casually.

I was on guard at once. “You had a free day on your business trip to New York, so you caught a flight to North Carolina?”

passenger plane

“Sure.”

“Isn’t that expensive?”

“Not if you travel roundtrip in one day. I got a special fare. It was a discount airline.”

Really. Who’s Tony?”

“Tony, my best friend from grade school. You’ve heard me talk about him.”

I knew all his friends from grade school, and none of them were named Tony.

“You’ve never mentioned him.”

“Yes, I have. Anyway, I probably never told you this, but Tony’s mom is a real famous chef in Italy. She’s from…” he paused, seeming to search his memory. “Sicily! You know, Sicily.”

“Yes, I know Sicily.”

chefs-hat-

“Anyway, she’s a real famous chef, she’s like, the Julia Child of Italy.”

“Really.” He didn’t catch the tone.

“Yeah, and she was there when I visited, and I told her…”

“Wait. Did Tony live with his dad or something? I mean, when you were kids.”

“No, he lived with his mom. And dad. Both of them.”

“In Minnesota.”

“Yeah, she took a break to raise him.”

“She took a break from being the Julia Child of Italy to raise her son in the public school system in Minnesota.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, go on.” This was a rare opportunity. Give a man enough rope, and he’ll hang himself.

“So I told her how you’d made the lasagna with sausage, and she couldn’t stop laughing. I mean, for hours. She said that was the most ridiculous thing she’s ever heard, using sausage in Italian cooking.”

“The Julia Child of Italy has never heard of using sausage…” I shook my head.

Italian cooking

“She couldn’t stop laughing.”

“She lives in North Carolina?”

“No, she lives in Sicily. She was visiting Tony for the weekend.”

“The weekend?”

“The holiday weekend. It’s a holiday in Italy. Freedom Day or something.”

“You visited him the weekend his mother arrived from Italy? During her very short visit with her son?” He nodded. “Okay, go on.”

“She was like a second mother to me.” Chin up, challenging me to contradict him.

“What’s her name?”

“Uh, Maria, I think…but she goes by something else professionally. I forget what. Anyway, she couldn’t stop laughing. She laughed so hard and so long, she didn’t have any time to spend with Tony.”

“Or you, I’m guessing.”

“She didn’t have any time to spend with Tony.” He repeated with emphasis, and paused. “You ruined their weekend together with your lasagna.”

Now it was my turn to laugh, assuming any part of what Dan told me was true and Maria had, indeed, had uncontrollable fits of mirth at my expense. Dan was annoyed, which only made me laugh harder.

A mutual friend filled out the rest of the story for me. A year or so later, Dan starting dating an Italian woman, someone born in the U.S. of — you guessed it — Sicilian parents. She invited him to dinner and (do I need to tell the rest of the story?) when he found out her mother was serving lasagna, he jokingly asked if she’d used sausage, planning to launch into this story about his ignorant former girlfriend.

“Of course,” she replied stiffly, and the conversation went downhill from there. Dan would never tell me any part of the story himself, but I had imagined something just like it for so long, so I was pleased as punch to hear it from our friend.

But the sad thing is, I haven’t made lasagna since that birthday so long ago. And my lasagna was damn good.


One-Way

Image Credits: (Sicily Sign) gustavofrazao — stock.adobe.com; (Dinner Table) lyudinka — stock.adobe.com; (Italian Cooking stamp) squarelogo — stock.adobe.com; (Chef’s Hat) courtesy of Pixabay; (Airplane) GraphicStock

Mature Process

So often I’ve compared a given experience to learning to drive a standard. You know, with the clutch.

Today’s new drivers aren’t as likely to learn to drive this way, since most new cars today are automatic (and have been for a long time). But once upon a time, at least in my neighborhood, if you were a teenager and wanted a car, you took your official driving lessons in an automatic (the school provided  lessons once you passed Safety Ed.) and a family member took on the task of teaching you to drive a 5-speed.

You learned because a standard cost about 25 percent less than an automatic. That’s a lot of money with that price tag. Besides, there’s more power in shifting gears. More control. More attitude.

However, it’s a frustrating process. You know what you’re supposed to do, you swear you’re doing it and still it doesn’t work. That’s not the only swearing, typically. Your first teacher gives up after sharing a few choice words and passes the task on to the next unsuspecting volunteer.

frustrationThen one day, you get it. It works. You no longer are stopped at a green light, praying you won’t stall again. There’s the occasional slip-up, sure, but you now know how to drive a standard.

Other learning experiences mimic that process. For me, it was math.  Particularly algebra. I struggled and struggled until miraculously, the light broke through. Lucky for me, my high school math teacher watched my process and understood why I went from Ds to As, virtually overnight.

I wasn’t so lucky in college, but that’s another story for another day.

I’ve seen men and women take on knitting, something that is second nature to me, and talk themselves through every labored stitch. “I’ll never get it,” they might moan, but I assure them, it will happen. Just keep breaking in those new pathways in the brain.

Driving, calculating, knitting.  It takes time, but the battle is part of the joy. By the way, I impressed the heck out of a KFC worker a few years back when I pulled up in my 5-speed Corolla. “I’ve never seen a woman drive a standard,” he marveled. Ah, the passing of time. The needs, and therefore the skills, change.

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So whatever you’re learning, stay with it until that breakthrough.  Actually, I’m not going to say never give up. There is always a time to move on. Just don’t give up before the process is complete, and your frustration has matured and born fruit.


Clutch

Image Credits: (Light Bulbs) © Dmitry Guzhanin – stock.adobe.com; (Frustrated Woman) © ivector — stock.adobe.com; (Woman in Car) courtesy of Pixabay.