Monday, July 16, 2007

Twenty Things Right Now

1. I got this idea for 20 things right now from the blog of Ali Edwards. She's so wonderfully creative and colorful and posts wonderful photos of her life.

2. I am at home alone. Steve has gone to work. Daniel is off to play even yet more baseball. He played four games this past weekend in Milledgeville, Georgia. And at least six games this week. Kristiana stayed at home this weekend, splitting her time between her best friend Amber's house and being here with my mother. K is currently at Amber's house. I need to call her and set up a pick up time.

3. I'm enormously grateful for the love and support of our friends and family. They have bailed us out of many a jam, cooked us many a meal, and loved us through many a year.

4. The lake front resort we stayed in over the weekend is in Eatonton, Georgia, the hometown of one of my favorite writers of all time, Alice Walker.

5. Alice Walker is in a very bad way in terms of her relationship with her daughter, Rebecca. I pray often for their reconciliation.

6. Eatonton, Georgia and its surrounds is a study in contrasts: multi-million dollar golf resort communities on one stretch of road and trailer homes with tin roofs and plastic sheets on the windows just a few hundred yards away.

7. I spent a fair amount of time over the weekend thinking about that contrast and how oblivious many people at the golf resort seemed to be to the pain surrounding them on all sides.

8. I also challenged myself over and over to enjoy myself, despite the contrast.

9. I don't like sleeping on flannel sheets. There were flannel sheets on the bed in the huge house we rented for the weekend.

10. I'm glad I took my own pillow and didn't have to sleep with my head on a pillow that had a flannel pillowcase.

11. Who uses flannel sheets in Georgia in the middle of July?

12. Cathy, a woman who worked at the baseball park cleaning up after fans and players who leave extraordinary messes behind us, spoke to me for quite a while about how much she works, how she couldn't wait to go home when all the games were over and the crew cleaned everything up, and about her surprise that there is a girl on Daniel's baseball team.

13. There is a girl on Daniel's baseball team, Abbie. A very fast little runner with a very long blonde ponytail.

14. As I felt my impatience with Cathy's questions and comments building (I was supposed to be watching Daniel's game) I became acutely aware of the probability that few parents who come to the ballpark take the time to talk to her, answer her questions about the teams on the field, and just have a normal human conversation with her. How dare I be so impatient and unkind in my thinking?

15. I just finished a book called Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. The main premise of the book is that what is killing people most efficiently, in the emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual sense, is our incessant addiction to comparisons. I see someone else and immediately feel the urge to look like that person or drive a better car or live in a nicer house. OR we look at others and declare ourselves superior because we don't want to be like and live like them. In nearly all cases, we divide ourselves into us vs. them teams and proceed to find ways to make ourselves right and others wrong.

16. During most of the weekend, I was painfully aware of how often I do just that: I am more spiritual and more environmentally aware than those people. I don't drink as much alcohol as they do. I pray more than he does. She is thinner than I am. They have more money than we do. They travel more than we do and fly first class all the time. In other words, I was confronted with how much better I think I am than some people and how much worse off than others. I also found myself asking this age-old question nearly hourly: who cares, Gail?

17. Steve and I had a pretty good discussion about the book and my selfish thoughts in the car on the way down there. I sure wish he'd read the book because our conversation could be that much better.

18. One of the boys on Daniel's baseball team rode with us from the golf resort to the baseball complex on Sunday morning. On the way there, this little boy declared to Daniel that blue eyes are the best. Why? Because he has blue eyes. He actually said that: "Blue eyes are the best because that's what I have. What color do you think is the best?" Silence. I'm not sure Daniel know what to say. I didn't say anything; Steve reached over and touched my leg. Yup, the comparisons and superiority stuff starts really early.

19. We drove a mother and son pair back home from Georgia last night. They live just a couple of blocks from us. The mother declared that "in our neighborhood you almost have to have a luxury car." And then she went on to give the names of her neighbors and the makes and models of the cars they drive. Plus the cars some of her neighbors have given to their children. The comparisons and superiority stuff doesn't stop.

Steve leased a beautiful blue Jaguar for me for two years and a HUGE part of the reason why we didn't buy it at the end of the lease is because we realized that luxury cars and all the baggage that comes standard with them are not commensurate with the life we choose to live. We don't deserve to be treated differently because of the car we drive. We don't deserve more respect or more envy or a better parking space. With all due respect and thanks to Steve who leased the car for me for my 40th birthday, I don't miss that car one bit. Not one tiny bit. Well, perhaps except for the stereo system. And the cool interior lighting at night. And the automatic air conditioning... Seriously, I don't miss it at all.

On a brighter note, I had a great conversation on this very topic with a friend last week, and she pointed out the fact that very few people even think to question the lifeboat theory of life - which has to do with deciding who gets into the lifeboat and who doesn't. Who is worthy of rescue and who isn't? Who fits in with "our group" and who doesn't? I've decided that it's time to start thinking more deeply about abandoning lifeboat thinking in my own life in as many areas as I possibly can. AND I'm going to ask people around me how they decide who gets onto their lifeboats. Why not get some other people talking about this as well???

20. I look forward to signing off the internet and making myself some coffee. I am in desperate need of some quiet time. Staying with two other families in the huge house on the water, sleeping in the bedroom with the flannel sheets, heading off to the baseball complex with 37 other people, eating every meal with the entire team, and then driving home with other people in the car - none of that makes for the kind of alone time that keeps me at peace with myself and those around me.

Off I go.

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