Friday, September 26, 2014

images that stick I don't know why

Lately I have noticed that certain images stick with me. I've always had a good memory, especially for things I see. But it's been a catalog, static pictures that I can thumb through when needed. This is different. This is a gnawing at, a ruminating sort of recall.

I had an encounter with a mouse, while meditating a few weeks ago. I was in my sitting room, focused on my in breath and m out breath. And then I let my focus expand. And saw a mouse, under my radiator. A little soft brown creature. I tried not to move, even more than usual. I didn't want to frighten the mouse, and I wasn't sure what to do. Would it be better to let it sit, or catch it? So I watched, trying to see if it was breathing. So small, lovely really, if you forgot it was a mouse. Five minutes passed like this. Then I carefully got up and went to get my husband. I thought maybe he could capture the mouse and let him go out back. The mouse was dead. It made me rethink how I feel about rodents, about flies, about all the little creatures going about their little lives, doing nothing but what they were made to do, and how we alter their paths for our own purposes. The image of the mouse keeps coming back to me.

The other day, I was in the parking garage, heading home from a less than pleasant work day. It's an ugly cement structure, dirty, dark, very industrial looking. The garage is for employees, and has two floors of parking for patients.  I usually move pretty fast, heading toward the third floor. I always take the stairs. I heard a mom yelling, SLOW DOWN, SLOW DOWN, at her child. The little girl, blond, wearing something pink, was racing toward me in her wheel chair. She was laughing on the way to her doctor's appointment. I don't know if it was the laughter, or the light=up lights on the wheels of her wheelchair. Red, blue and green lights, that created this awesome pattern as she wheeled. It CAUGHT me. "Your lights are really cool!" I called after her as she sped by. I was grinning from ear to ear and it lasted all the way home.

That kid touched my heart. I don't know her. I will never know her. But her laughter, and her lights, stuck.

And somehow, in the strange alchemy of thought and memory, the two images have become related. the mouse, the girl, the soft brown fur and the whirling lights. Silence and laughter.

Monday, September 08, 2014

when folks do wrong

I am struggling today with a dilemma of sorts. One of our local football stars, Ray Rice, was released from our hometown football team, the Baltimore Ravens. Football is almost a religion here, and Rice was a patron saint of sorts. He is an amazingly talented football player. Over the years, he has been very visible in local charities, and very vocal in opposing bullying in schools.

But today, a video surfaced, showing Ray Rice knocking his fiancee unconscious. It was terrible to see. Heartbreaking. I watched our local hero throw a punch, and then drag his unconscious girlfriend out of an elevator, handling her as if she was a bag of laundry. He showed no concern and no remorse.

I don't know Ray Rice, or his wife. I didn't hear the words exchanged, or observe these two people in better times, or even in the days prior to the altercation. There is nothing personal in this situation. It didn't happen to me. But I felt hurt, angry, disappointed, and wanted to see justice done, as if it really were personal. What I saw was not okay.

So I was happy that the team released him. Serves the bastard right, you know. But then I thought, how does that serve him, or his children, or his wife? Is it justice? or does it just feel good to see something done?  I don't want him to enjoy fame and fortune, as if he didn't do something terrible. I don't want kids looking up to him and thinking that knocking someone out is okay, something you can do as long as you are a man on the football field. I want a line that people know it is not okay to cross. I want to root on my team without feeling conflicted about it. When it comes down to it, I want bad things to happen to bad people.

Except, that then I end up here. Ray Rice clearly needs to learn other ways to handle his anger, his strength, his behavior. And his wife will have to struggle with shame and forgiveness and her own anger. Will being fired, and publicly shamed help in this? or make it worse? 

What I really want is for Ray Rice to be a better man. And I want his wife to be a better woman. I want them whole and healed and not capable of treating each other this way. 

 Which leaves me with this. What is the compassionate course when people do the wrong thing? how should we respond individually? collectively? How do we take something ugly and wrong and make it right?