I will fight no more forever

“I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever,” said Chief Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904) of the Nez Perce Indians in 1877 after he and about 700 members of his tribe travelled 1,500 miles in an attempt to escape the pursuing United States Army and take refuge in Canada.

Chief_Joseph-1877

Chief Joseph – 1877

The words, I will fight no more forever, mean a great deal to me. They reflect how I feel about life in general, particularly when it comes to my private life. I think most understand there is a big difference between fighting and arguing different views and opinions.

I hate fighting.  It’s violent and I am sick to death of violence, in any form.   Other than protecting my life, or the life and safety of another (this includes animals, folks), I see no healthy reason for physical and emotional violence.

Fighting wounds. It damages. It’s scary. It’s sad. It causes pain which is exactly what it supposed to do, because it’s fighting – because it’s violence.  Fighting makes healing and understanding impossible because it prevents healthy communication. Also, fighting takes no talent.

This is not a long missive. It doesn’t need to be.  To quote Chief Joseph: “It does not require many words to speak the truth.”

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Shoulder punchers: an interview with Smerkle Grumpy

 

  • Mr. Grumpy, it’s a pleasure to sit down with –
  • Smerkle.
  • Pardon?
  • Smerkle, call me Smerkle.
  • Well then, it’s a pleasure sit down with you.
  • Thank you. You as well.
  • It’s been awhile.
  • Been watching my man, Peter, from afar, as the saying goes. Watching him trying to get himself moved. Proud of him. Still patient with people, more than most, more than me. Known him since he was a boy – he’s got a real kind streak.
  • You think he is too kind?
  • Oh no, don’t misunderstand me. Not too kind at all. Glad he’s in a world that’s been short on kindness for a long time. So no, not too kind.
  • Too patient?
  • He’s more patient than I’d be, but no, not too patient. People deserve patience, some need and deserve a lot of it. Some deeply wounded folk in the world.
  • Can he run out of patience?
  • We all can. I remember a time my boy did when he was in reform school back when.
  • Can you tell us about it? Would he mind?
  • He might mind, but I’ll tell you. There was this kid, same age as Peter, in the same hall, the wards where the boys lived. Anyway, this kid, will call him Johnny, liked to punch Peter in the shoulder, doing it light at first, then a little harder, saying sorry later, then punching Pete’s shoulder next time Peter’d walk by. After a while, Peter called him out.
  • Called him out?
  • In this reform school if two of the boys were getting close to a fight, they’d let the boys fight, surrounded by their mates, the male staff watching to make sure no one really got badly hurt, and usually the two combatants became friendly after the fight. Some kind of release I suppose. Calling out was when one kid challenged another, quietly or openly.
  • How’d Peter do it?
  • Wide open. They were in the gym sitting on bleachers, about 30 boys, half a dozen staff or so, taking a break. Peter walks by, Johnny punches him in the shoulder and that was it.
  • What was it?
  • Peter ripped into him. You really want to fight with me that badly? Seriously? Just can’t help yourself, wish it that bad do you? If you’re feeling froggish, then leap, cause your wish has come true.
  • What happened?
  • One smack upside Johnny’s head and down he went. Then Peter did his thing, helped Johnny up, telling him all the time being friends was a lot easier on the both of’m than fighting. Even when he knew he had no choice and had to act, like with Johnny, or protecting someone, he always felt badly about hurting someone.
  • He felt guilty.
  • No-no, not guilty. Badly. Sad. Definitely not guilty.
  • It’s good to be talking with you again, Smerkle.
  • Good to be talking with you too.

 

When someone loves you

When someone really loves you they may in fact be a direct challenge to anyone or any thing in life that has given you the message — or may still be giving you the message — that you not worth loving. Whether that message is delivered by the punishing voice or hand of a parent or another family member or stranger, or someone alleged to be a trusted member of society, the message is pulverizing, and horribly wrong.

 
You are well worth loving and you always have been well worth loving. Whether you truly know this to be true or not, it is true.

 
If a child lives in a environment in which he or she is told, every day of their life, that they are bad, not worth loving, ugly, stupid, fat, and so on, what else would one expect a child to believe? Children have no reference point they can draw from to understand what they are being told about themselves is completely false.

 
So, when someone loves you, that person, that love, is a direct contradiction of the myth the wounded child has come to believe, and therein lies the challange. Breaking free of the myth, getting free of your history.

 
This is not easy, I know. But it is, I promise you, possible. I know this too.

******************

 

Don’t mistake patience for… you know

My friend Dane told me more than once  I had too much patience with people. On one occasion he was referring to my knuckle-headed attempt to give a problematic roommate of mine one more chance. Recently, it seems,  a seemingly remarkable person   visited and vanished. Thing is, I understood some of what my old roommate struggle and have some understanding of transience.  That said, having patience doesn’t mean your absent the feeling of anger towards a roommate or disappointment and anger when transience destroys.

There is a saying that goes, Don’t mistake niceness for weakness. Another accurate one could be, Don’t mistake patience for weakness.

Those who know me well know it would be a mistake to experience my niceness or patience as signals that I’m unwilling or unable to right-size or step into someone when need be. I have little patience for cruelty, for heartlessness, for bullies. Not surprisingly, this brings me to the heartless, spineless, racist bully currently occupying the White House.

This self-absorbed white nationalist visits stagggered-by-Hurricane-Harvey Texas, doesn’t thank first responders, doesn’t offer condolences to those going through living hell, doesn’t mention those who have died so far, and visits none of the flood victims. Instead, his White House sends out a press release with a link to buy a white cap with USA and 45 on it like the one racist was wearing.  Not a surprise the hat was white.

My old roommate would be more than welcome to my life, so would the recent visitor. Both would be welcome in my admittedly modest home. And, yes,  it is true,  I’d welcome Trump into my home, but only because I’d like to kick his ass privately, and more than once.

Just sayin’.

************

For A.M.C.

Break for Freedom – Day 4 (Fabric softener)

Day 4 – Monday, August 14, 2017

7:08 a.m. – This morning feels intensely like a maybe. This is wimpy on my part, but waking up later than usual throws me, and generously offers all kinds of reasons not to walk solo today.

8:14 a.m. – Just as I’m going out the door I’m raging with discomfort, I’m thinking the inside of my sweatshirt is way rough on my skin and how can I walk…

I walked anyway. Next problem. My t-shirt is soaked through in no time at all and, as that too starts to bother me, I remember that when I was a dancer, or playing sports, I loved being sweat-soaked, fully immersed in the task at hand.

There will be no fabric softener for this kid.