Beneath the Surface – the Past always Catches Up with you

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Bill Cosby’s arraignment for “aggravated indecent assault” i.e. multiple rapes and alleged rapes has shocked the nation; especially his long-time fans and admirers.

Cosby represented the all-American family and basic goodness. He made us laugh. He made us smile at our own foibles in parenting.

His story reminds me of a similar one about a former cop who got arrested for child porn and spousal abuse.  Known for protecting others, he couldn’t protect his own or himself.

And what about the neighbor’s husband who ends up in the headlines, after his death, for his reputation as a pervert and philanderer. When the grieving wife settled his affairs, she discovered letters and other evidence of his misdeeds in his desk; confirming what she suspected, but could not prove. She continued to find the tell-tale signs of his indiscretions long after he was gone.

The past always catches up with you. Some people manage to keep the surface of their lives smooth and unfettered, but deep within is a raging sea. What triggers these unexplained blips that appear in an otherwise normal existence?  Is it a controlling environment and too much stress? Or simply a need to indulge a secret and a hidden piece of life that no one else has access to?

My husband and I share an office which I’m discovering is a big mistake. He sits right behind me. While I’m trying to create, he reads his emails and laughs out loud. At other times, he shares his mail or what’s off the top of his head. When my children were young, I learned to continue regardless of the interruptions or noise. But as I’ve grown older, I’m finding the ability to focus is more difficult.

I usually head for my desk when I wish to write or catch up with things. To do this requires concentration and imagination. My husband follows me like a puppy dog into the office. I should feel flattered that he likes my companionship, but my irritation sometimes boils over in unflattering ways.

I go to the office when I want a moment of communion with my higher force and muse. The other day I listened to some Christmas music from “Child of the promise” a musical production written and arranged by Michael & Stormie Omartian in the year 2000.

The solos by Elizabeth and Mary fill me with joy and allow me to worship in a way that is only possible with music. Of course, that brought protests from my husband, who looked upon it as an intrusion  into his space, even though I was there first to be alone. He views the office as his and his alone.

God gifted me as a writer and an artist. So why then did I have a large family and demanding spouses?  Alone time has always been rare and difficult to find.

I had friends who were writers that found a means to create. One put a hair dryer on her head and concocted stories in a whirl of white noise? Another friend locked herself in the bathroom so she could think and pound out her thoughts without being disturbed.

I used to create on my daily walks. My husband would jog ahead and I’d commune with nature and create subject matter. Sometimes I’d use this time to pray and converse with my higher power and muse. Now he no longer jogs, but walks beside me, usually expounding upon some political angst or philosophy. He uses me as his sounding board and silent companion. I end up feeling frustrated for lack of two-way conversation or the “space” I so desperately need.

Sometimes I lose my cool. And sometimes he does, too. When you’re with someone 24/7 you have to make space in order to survive. If you can relate, be sure to define the times and places where you need a quiet spot for down time. If you fail to do this, don’t be surprised if you end up in a screaming match wondering what just happened.

Life and Death Struggles Hit Everyone

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All around the world, individuals are in life and death battles against formidable enemies that threaten their existence. The danger often comes by being born in a certain region or conforming to a specific religion. Vulnerability may come simply because of skin color or ethnicity.

Most of us don’t take unnecessary risks if we can help it. We try to avoid confrontation if at all possible. When we find ourselves between the crosshairs of someone’s hatred, we may pray for the very first time. Few of us can understand the animosity that propels this anger. Sometimes we may be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Coincidence? Stupidity? We call it many things.

There are other threats that surround us each day. Disease, accident, emotional or physical turmoil may be waiting for us at the end of the day: in an intersection, at the office, within our own homes, stalking us as a lion ready to pounce. None of us are exempt. No one is above the human experience.

“Namesake” acrylic on canvas

The target changes with the fickle whims of fate and popular opinion. Today if you’re a police officer your life is at risk, not only from the threats of occupation, but from misaligned angst from perceived injustices. Facts are ignored in this wave of emotion.

The supposed victims of police brutality are usually in the process of breaking the law. Officers attempt to stop the perpetrator and make an arrest. They resist. They may even pull out a gun or attempt to physically pummel the officer. The “perp” resents being stopped from continuing to break the law. They see the officer or officers as the enemy intruding into their life and freedom to do what they please. They attempt to flee and are stopped either by a Taser or a bullet.

The assailant’s family grieves not only with sadness but with shouts of “police brutality.” And a new cycle of violence and hatred continues.

Self-examination is difficult. We sometimes see ourselves as victims in a random world where everyone is “out to get us.” Why is it so difficult to take responsibility for our own actions?

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When my children were still in school, I told their teachers at conference time that I believed in allowing my children to “suffer the consequences of their actions.” I wanted them to relate “outcome” with their negative actions. Of course, there were some teachers who were not to be trusted with this precious authority. Not everyone has a sense of fair play and justice.

How else can people learn the difference between right and wrong in a civilized society if not through suffering the consequences of their own actions?

It is delusion to blame policemen for brutality when you resist arrest for committing a crime. Period! A mature reasoning adult accepts responsibility for their choices. Savages do not. The outrage that follows when we do not is the result of exploitation and a failure of government. Lashing out to burn and destroy your own communities only hurts you and those you love.

When will the violence end? Only when the government and leaders cease to feed the fires of envy and hatred. Only when law abiding citizens in those communities rise up and stop the madness.

Integrity and Respect are Two Sides of the Same Coin

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"Twitters and Twigs" 11x14 oil on canvas

“Twitters and Twigs” 11×14 oil on canvas

On NBC Nightly News they reported on a Neurologist who was treating five different women for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Each had had expensive tests, including an MRI and had been prescribed meds that were costing upwards of several hundred to thousands of dollars per month. In their efforts to get financial relief, the women obtained second opinions that revealed they did not have MS.

The reporter said “The doctor was nothing more than a ‘con’ man. “He got away with it because he was a well-known and respected doctor. He was charming. He had charisma and a friendly persona.”

The downfall of a once successful man can usually be blamed not only on dishonesty, but lack of integrity. The doctor knew what he was doing was wrong, but he thought he could get away with it. He didn’t really care that his actions were criminal or that it would cause others pain. He only thought of himself and the money that would end up in his own pocket. Now he has been revealed for what he really is on the inside: a thief, a liar, and a selfish greedy scum bag. The man is an “empty suit.”

Turkey Buzzards circling for a feast

Turkey Buzzards circling for a feast

They are around us everywhere, even on the elevated floors of congress and in the highest halls of academia. The rules that others play by, they simply ignore: “Put your money where your mouth is; you talk a good game, can you play a good game?” Actions always speak louder than words.

If you “live by the sword,” you will usually die by the sword. “What goes around comes around.” If your poison tongue spews venom outward to deceive others, eventually your words and acts will come back to haunt you or destroy you. In the past, people shook hands in agreement; their word was as good as a signed contract. When did words come to mean so little?

Speaking of words, do people trust that you will do what you say?” Are you reliable? When your name comes up in private conversations will the discussion be positive? Is your character praiseworthy?

Reputations are built one step at a time through the accumulation of successful interactions with others. Integrity strengthens those negotiations. Integrity once earned, cannot be taken from you. It is a priceless quality that is valued and appreciated by many, but cannot be purchased, stolen or copied.

"Fish Market" 24x18 acrylic on canvas

“Fish Market” 24×18 acrylic on canvas

Integrity is that part of your being that is deeply enmeshed with fiber, tissue, heart and soul. It is intrinsic to a person’s character and reputation. You can only increase its value through practice and consistent behavior that builds trust.

Without integrity there is no respect in the true sense. This kind of standing enhances love and diminishes fear. Integrity is eternal. It will cover your nakedness when you pass from mortal to eternal life and become your crown of righteousness when you stand before Almighty God.