Archive for the ‘survival’ Tag

ANOTHER LEG ON THE JOURNEY TO MY NEW HOME   7 comments

Since I closed on the sale of my townhome on August 30th, I’ve had a wonderful time living first with my friend and neighbor Jean in the unit across the way, and then Dianne, two units down. Now it’s time to leave here and move in on my son for a few days before we take off for the South American cruise we arranged to help me kill time – and find food and shelter – for another segment of the journey to the Waters of Excelsior. I’ve seen my unit twice, now, the second time to request some modifications. I love my apartment — can hardly wait to move in. But I have to wait for my scheduled move-in day — December 3.

In the process, my life has become a rather disorganized – albeit pleasurable – mess. But I have managed to stay on top of “My Father’s House.” At the suggestion of MaryCarroll Moore in the course I took at Madeline Island, the 900 some pages are being divided into separate books. The first one, with the working title “My Father’s House: Book One – from Tursås, Sweden to Forestville/Bristol Connecticut,” is about 300 pages long. Now I’m looking for people – preferably who don’t know me – to review it before it gets another editing — and then, probably, another. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate hearing them, and I’m happy to attach a “Word” copy to someone who’d like to commit to the task/pleasure. This is the time when I need people to be honest in their comments.

A good thing about e-mail is that it follows pretty easily wherever I go. I can even get it sporadically when I’m at sea (literally as well as figuratively.)

My regret is that I haven’t eked out the time to fulfil my middle-of-the night intentions to blog about my hopes and fears for my country and my part in it. In a nutshell, I long for decisions based on hope, compassion, and love. I dread choices based on fear, isolation, and hate. In the sleepless hours I’ve read Olivia Hawker’s “The Ragged Edge of Night.” (I do recommend it.) It’s the story of ordinary German’s working to live, love, survive and thrive in the shattering results of Hitler’s fascism. As bombs drop in the nearby city, and personal destruction threatens, they frequently ask the question, “When could we have acted to stop it?’ I ask the same question now – “How can we stop it?”

Like the characters in the novel, I know I have to work at staying alive, happy, and productive to avoid the potential for inaction and despair as I can’t avoid exposure to political smear tactics. My father and his house saw many terrible periods in our history, but I am sure there wasn’t the desire to destroy those in the opposition even after victory has been won.

So, I wish healthy, productive, and satisfying survival and growth mechanisms for all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL 15, 2015, THE SHORT VERSION   32 comments

I was on my way home via Audubon Road in Chaska, Minnesota, a short distance from where I would take a right turn onto Engler Boulevard. Not far from the safety of my own garage.

I knew I was sleepy, so I was fighting it, when suddenly there it was, the last car in a line of cars that I was bearing down on. There wasn’t really time to say words to myself, but I thought, “I did it!” (fell asleep, that is), Not wanting to injure anyone else, I turned off into the grassy area on the side of the road. From there I rely on the report of an eyewitness who saw the whole thing. In fact, he called 911 before my car had even hit the ground for the third time. “Send everything,” he told them.

I just barely clipped the bumper of the car in front of me, and apparently accelerated to turn off into the grassy area. There ensued a wild ride, steering desperately to avoid trees and poles, knowing I wanted to get my foot to the brake, but too busy steering. The eyewitness tells me any other choice I might have made would have been disastrous for lots of people.

Then my car hit something that propelled me about 8 feet over the street sign, taking out a street light as I landed for the first time. Two more rollovers ensued before my car came to a stop right side up. All I could do was repeat “Oh my God!” Several times as I listened to the loud metallic noises of my 2002 Acura RSX in flight. Not like a prayer. More like astonished observation.

By the time I landed, the eyewitness had left his car behind and was there to lean in the hole that once was the passenger side window. I saw black smoke and thought “I’d better get out of here. The car is about to burst into flames.” That’s when he reached in and touched my hand, telling me he’d called 911 and help was on the way. “What’s your name?” he asked, and I told him. “Where do you live?” he asked, and I told him. “Are you married?” he asked. “Divorced since 1976” I said.

“I expected to see a bloody dead body,” he reports, “and instead I found you tucked away in your little cocoon.”

Help was there in two minutes, and what wonderful help it was. Such kind people who went well beyond the call of duty.

I have more details to report, but I’m running out of energy. For the short version – every part of my car was smashed except the part I was in. I have three broken ribs, lots of bruising, and a fractured?/crushed? vertebra, L1, I think. It’s the one at the base of the spine.

I’m doing great. Ever so grateful I didn’t hurt anyone else, Amazed I’m alive. More than that, I’m joyful.

I’m even blessed by the fact there was a place for me in a rehab location just 5 minutes from my home where some of my friends volunteer.

Already the ribs are less painful. My logistical problem is the brace that must be worn for three months (predicted) whenever I am upright – even in the shower, for example. We’re now down to the point where two of us can get it on and off, an experienced aide and me. I won’t go into the problems of living alone with it, and I assume I’ll solve it at some point. Right now, though, please don’t ask me when I’ll be going home.

I did go out this past Tuesday, though, to participate as a presenter in a forum on forgiveness.

I’ll try to attach photos of my car.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t been around the blogosphere much lately.

Crushed Car #2jpeg Crushed Car #1

FORGIVENESS; FOREGO-NESS; CONTROL   10 comments

I’m back! I tried to stay in touch with you all while I was on vacation from this post, often with just a “like” to let you know I’m paying attention.

And now I have probably more to say than either of us would prefer, but I hope you’ll stay with me. As usual, my thoughts have been grinding away.

I just finished reading “All But My Life” by Gerda Weissmann Klein, the memoir of a young woman born in Poland in 1924 who endured and survived the brutality and slavery of the Nazi holocaust. Because she is such an excellent writer, one feels the abject misery and humiliation without her ever telling us what we should be feeling. Just the direct reporting of events is all that’s needed for a powerful reminder of the abomination of which “ordinary” people are capable. And an indicator of the stealth with which the reality of developing sadism creeps up on victims who have faith in the goodness and decency of humanity.

I read it on the heels of “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, a fictional portrayal of the gradual involvement of “innocent” people in supporting the Nazi terror. It would be difficult, I believe, for one to read this without heightening the awareness of the ever-present threat of horror built on indifference.

These observations lead me to the quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller, who, an outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler, spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

Both books I’ve mentioned remind me of the potential danger in avoiding awareness and confrontation. And both books offered much in the way of analysis of personal approaches to survival.

But my purpose here is more limited to the thoughts I’ve been having about forgiveness. The person who recommended Klein’s book to me suggested it was a story of forgiveness. But I realize something different – perhaps parallel to forgiveness –was going on. The author never focuses on her anger toward her tormentors, but rather on what she can do to survive. In other words, all her energy was directed toward staying alive.

I noticed that same phenomenon at the time of the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. When the parents of a murdered child were asked by an interviewer whether they would be able to forgive the shooter, their response was, basically, “We can’t spend our time focused on him. We have a family to care for. We need to find a way to go on, and maybe even heal.”

I think we need a new word, something like “forego-ness.” While the point of forgiveness is that it starts with blaming the offender and experiencing our anger, the two examples above demonstrate foregoing any attention to the wrongdoer. Control rested in the hands of those parents, and in the charge of author Klein. They simply bypassed the anger, the first step in forgiveness, and went directly to focusing on taking care of themselves.

I have regularly defined “forgiveness” as the decision not to punish an offender and the relief that follows. I think I should describe that relief more specifically as removing power from the offender and taking back control over one’s own life. If refusing to forgive is like locking oneself in a cell and handing the keys to the offender. Then the result of deciding not to punish is equivalent to taking the keys back.

As always, I know I have to point out this doesn’t mean one decides the offender shouldn’t pay a price, but rather that the forgiver’s life can move on without being controlled by concern for the one who caused the pain.

The metaphor for “forego-ness” would have no image of keys or cells. One simply doesn’t lock oneself in the cell in the first place.

I do hope I’ll get some comments on these ideas. And I hope the commenter will be you.

And there’s still When to Forgive and Forgiving One Page at a Time for your perusal if you choose.

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