musings of a malcontent

seattle native, teacher w/out a classroom, bookkeeper, drinker of coffee and red wine, a constant work in progress

what it’s all about

When I was younger, the janitor at the school I went to was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This man, Mr.Tumulty, was a GIANT of a man. In both physical stature and personality. He was bigger than life. During the building of the new high school building, apparently he’d hold up the sheet rock with one hand and nail it to the ceiling with the other hand. I was always tall, but his shadow dwarfed mine! He was also a man with the biggest heart I’ve ever witnessed someone expressing so openly and genuinely. The disease took him quickly. It was so unfair. It effortlessly fell a man who was a physical force to be reckoned with. I used to babysit for his 2 boys and I remember their change. I remember the questioning everyone did. Why him? Shortly after his diagnosis which he knew was a fatal one, he was still so upbeat. He whistled all the time, he was happy and he was excited, I mean, not just “put on a good face” excited. He was truly happy to be going to heaven. And he spoke of it openly and to whomever was within ear shot. I’m not sure if that made me, at the age I was, encouraged or not. I still did not understand it. Last week my mom told me that a friend of theirs, Bob, who goes to our church, was also just diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. We knew something was wrong, as he’d been wheelchair bound for about a year, but I don’t think anyone expected this. I sat next to Sharon (Bob’s wife) and Bob at church on Sunday. Out of the corner of my eye I could see still, their zest for life and what it still had to offer them.

There are things that I just don’t understand, things I cannot explain. I can theorize, I can get philosophical, I can get spiritual about, I can get political over it, but there are just some things that cannot be figured out. There has been just an annoyance, or… cloud of frustration, on my mind lately and I couldn’t figure it out until Sunday, while sitting next to Bob and Sharon. This year has been a tough one for a dear friend of mine in terms of death/sickness of loved ones. It’s been a year of mourning and questioning and trying to grasp the “what’s it all about.” There’s been no rhyme or reason for most of the tragedy surrounding her and her family. It truly has been one of those ‘when it rains it pours’ seasons in her/their life, and it’s awful. It’s awful to watch, it’s awful that it’s all happening, it’s awful watching her grapple with it and try to emotionally and mentally and spiritually deal with it all and not lose her faith in humanity, her faith in God and her faith in her own ability to deal with things and not go crazy in the meantime. We’ve discussed it some. But some of the things can’t be explained. There’s no good reason why that little girl was killed. There’s no good reason why that other relative got cancer. There’s just no good reason. So, anger happens. At life, at people, at God. And I think that’s good. I think that’s healthy. But I think, there at some point has to be an understanding that you can’t figure everything out. And you can’t blame God or people for everything, as much as you want to. And you can’t dwell on it for so long that it consumes your every thought and ruins your will. I’m not suggesting to Pollyanna out and take this ‘life is all sunshine and roses’ view. But there has to be something to live for and to believe in and to be excited about, because otherwise, what’s the point? My friend didn’t go down that dark rabbit hole. She managed to do the grieving, do the anger and processing of it before it got to that point. But it was a struggle. As it is with all of us.

I’ve been accused of being ‘not deep,’ on occasion. Deep, meaning that I don’t write huge rants and spend endless amounts of energy being mad at ‘the system’ or ‘the man’ or whatever. And I don’t use convoluted verbage to convey how I feel, compared to the person who has suggested it anyhow. Some feel that to use such language, or to be so philosophical and to be so upset, is the best way to get the point across. For some, maybe that’s the only way they know how. And there’s a time and place for that sort of dialogue. But I met a woman yesterday who came through the food bank line who I think has it pretty figured out too, in a much different way. There was a ‘gentleman’ ahead of her in line that was just angry. Angry at nothing and no one in general. It’s a pretty safe assumption that he’d just an angry guy. She looked at me, I looked at her and we both smiled. I was working at the sign-in desk yesterday so I get to chit-chat a bit more with them, especially if the line is longer and they have to wait a bit. So we chatted and I learned that she used to be a concierge at a downtown hotel. We talked about how some people are just like that guy, they’re so upset with the world, or so disenchanted with their lives and society, that they are just angry all the time. We concluded that that would be so exhausting! And such a waste of time. So true. The people who write, and put others down in the process, are justified in their rants but with a limit and not necessarily in the manner in which they go about it. And if it only stays on paper, or in their little blogosphere and world or those who feel the same way, it does no good. The people who struggle to understand tragedy, are totally justified. But to dwell on it to the point where it consumes them and they are shrouded in gloom, does them and those they’re around, no good.

The weirdness in the ‘air’ I’ve been trying to figure out is just that I think. What’s it’s all about?!  The more women I meet like this woman at the food bank, and the more people like Bob & Mr. Tumulty I meet… make me realize and understand just a bit better that life is what you make it. And, also how you react to it.


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