Thursday, July 21, 2011

Relentlessly positive

Quote of the day: I have to stay relentlessly positive, or life would beat me down into a quivering pulp. This thought made me chuckle, in a gallows-humor sort of way.

Walking at twilight, I watched as the leaves of the trees changed color. First they softened and became more vulnerable, less solid. Then their shrinking silhouettes took on a wraithlike appearance, pallid and yellow. Their color looked worse than my Dad's, actually. With the blue sky faded to gray, the leaves faded too. The dark of the evening revealed something that cannot be seen in the bright midday sun. Perhaps this is another description of impermanence. Sorry, I'm not much of a poet, but I like to try on occasion!

I saw a raccoon, at least it looked like one, cross the driveway ahead of me. This is perhaps the same one that visited our watering hole (pond) one evening a few weeks back and attracted all kinds of unwanted attention from us and our pets, because we happened to be outside. Tonight, I wished it well and then continued on my way, while it went on its.

Here was my inspiration for the week, a man who is active in the masons. Back story: Dwaine has developed a midlife interest in the masons and was seeking them out to join them. Apparently, the usual way to join is by invitation or bloodline, or some such. Dwaine's dad was in the masons at some point, about 150 years ago (minus a few years, I guess). But I think Dwaine's wild hair came more from reading Dan Brown (the mystique was too intriguing to pass up) and wishing to belong to a group, specifically a secretive men's group.

So we visited the Harlandale group, Austin & I along for moral support (Andrew would have been there but is gone on a youth mission trip this week). Dwaine had been in touch with one of the group's leaders, Ed, and was warmly welcomed as a visitor. They were doing the officer induction and all the new officers were wearing their special mason aprons and had their families present, from kids and grandkids to grandparents.

They seemed like decent folks, and meeting one man in particular made the whole evening worthwhile for me. His name was Ed, and a nicer man I couldn't imagine. As we got to talking, he gave us a little of his life history. He ran a funeral home along with his wife for many years, and told us the story of the time they had a big fight and he fired her. What a mistake, he soon realized. So he had to hire her back at a significant pay raise!

He lost a lung to cancer some years ago. Then recently, he came down with a cold and cough, went in for some tests, and got the news that there was cancer in his one remaining lung. So he's taking chemotherapy. He told us that he thinks attitude is really important. He said he'd go into the cancer treatment facility and see a bunch of glum faces. So he'd start telling stories and jokes, and soon most everyone would be smiling. He's serving as secretary again this year -- one more year, he insists, no more. He said that before, and wound up with the job for 20-something years!

What a great inspiration for me to hear Ed's story, at this moment in my life! I like to debate the idea that there is a personal God involved in the details of our lives. But then things like this happen, special people and life events cross my path, and God's fingerprints are all over them. I am still smiling. If Ed can go through his epic struggle and still encourage others, then what do I have to complain about? Besides, complaining never solves problems, it just adds to the misery.

Signing off as positively yours truly, Julie

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