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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Members of Rotary Friendship Exchange visit Rotarians in Northampton, England. June 2010.

People ask me all the time why I’m involved in a Rotary Club. Why, when there are so many other things vying for my time, do I devote hours per week to a boys’ club for tired old men?

I’m not going to wow readers with the litany of things Rotary does around the world. The list is too long. People don’t like to read. Things can quickly get overwhelming and bleed into other things.

My passion for Rotary is simple: Rotary promotes peace and goodwill among the nations of the world through service.

It took my involvement in Rotary to understand something fundamental about human beings.

We’re all the same.

Yep. That’s right. Regardless of what our divisive mainstream media would have us to believe, human beings, at our core, are identical. We need food and water. To survive, we require a form of shelter. Most of us wear basic clothing. However we protest, we all need love and crave the care of others. No matter our skin color, our beliefs about the hereafter, our ages, our accents, our backgrounds, our politics or our stations in life, we’re all in this together, working for the same shared necessities.

Thanks to Rotary, I manage to see the world that way *most* of the time. Embracing our common spirit made me curious of divergent points of view, and it forced me to see things through the eyes of others. It sucked me out of my comfort zone and compelled me to face my own prejudices. Rotary made me realize that giving shards of my time to another person is what transmogrifies rushing busyness into wholesome, unfettered peace, the fire that turns minutes into diamonds.

This year is going to be trying for many of us. It’s an election year in America. If you’re as sick as I am of opening your social media news feeds and reading lines-in-the-sand, division, blanket statements and rampant intolerance, try taking a portion of that time and flinging it into something like Rotary instead. Whether we can fix our country is still a question mark for me, but we can make an impact in the lives of others.

One investment at a time.

What do you do to better understand the people around you, Dear Reader?

Echoes of a Shotgun Wedding

A repost. Fiction to help us remember to live life.

It had to be the appearance of the gun that sent her to the divorce attorney, because, let’s face it, guns were never her kind of thing. Even though he waved it in her face, pointed it at her, touched the muzzle to her chest, and threatened to shoot himself with it, too, she survived that night.

It’s just as likely he killed her anyway.

How does one ever recover from knowing she could’ve died? From seeing fleeting television images of those scary crimes of passion, the ones where multiple black body bags are carried from some bland ranch structure or ritzy mansion while the reporter drones on in the foreground, wondering how it all happened, pointing the camera in stricken faces and asking the extended family how they feel? She knew how it happened, in a freak series of rash actions and shouted words that culminated in something final.

For a while, she forgot to feel anything.

Marriage was supposed to be…..what exactly? The ultimate state of bliss? The natural order of things? The rest of one’s life with a good, caring person? The best path to have children? The thing she was expected to do next? She was still too young to really define it for herself, but her little-girl fantasies and teenage dreams never included hell on earth.

Hell wasn’t what graced her eyes the first time she saw him. The One. He was everything – EVERYTHING – she had been trained to seek in a mate. She still had her list, the one she made when she was sixteen or seventeen, taped between the pages of her Bible. When she pulled out the worn paper and held it up next to him, she thought she’d drawn his picture. Marrying him was the most natural thing she’d ever done.

The natural things were the things she tried to remember when he called her a tumbling fury of Very Bad Words, when maybe all she said was I don’t want to have that for supper or I’m not ready to have people over or it’s too soon to have children. She never knew what might unleash the barrage of words she never really knew before she said I do. Through the haze of comment boxes that poured forth, obscuring his face, she tried to imagine the natural things, the secret smiles, the thrill of falling in love. Those comment boxes were pointy, though. They had gouging tips and sharp edges, could hack away pieces of her spirit until she recognized nothing but smoke and air, fog and mist, all things with no form, no surface, no shape of self to which to cling.

Sometimes, she thought it might be better if he just hit her. Shoving and screaming and driving the car really fast while pulling her hair didn’t seem to give him the release he craved. She locked herself in the bathroom, stared at herself in the mirror, made empty deals with herself. He said that was the last time. He promised not to do it again. Who are you? How did you ever wind up here?

A child was the ultimate weapon, the thing he knew would irrevocably control her, filaments that would snake from the tips of its fingers and toes. Those invisible fibers would wrap around her, consume her, while he watched from above, holding the wooden paddles attached to the strings. Succumbing would’ve been so easy, especially since she couldn’t remember all the little pieces of herself he’d already sheared away, scattered rubble that no longer fit together.

Guns and children. Children and guns. An explosive combination she recalled just in the knick of time. Tick. Tick. Tick…..

. . . .

This is a work of fiction. The story is based on some true events. However, it has been fictionalized, and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Return to Sender

Please pardon a second post today announcing the winners of this week’s blog theme contest. Andra and MTM renew their wedding vows in Vegas was the hidden theme. Cootchie Hooch and Las Vegas themed prizes are secured for the winner. Several honorable mentions get Las Vegas tinted goodies as well. I hope no winner stamps their package ‘Return to Sender.’

Lou Mello was the first reader to guess the theme. He had a slight advantage, because he was one of only four people who knew what we were doing in Vegas. I think he guessed the theme as a joke, not really sure where the week was headed. A deck of fabulous Las Vegas themed playing cards and a pair of loaded dice are en route to Lou.

Andrea Boccucci was the first reader to guess the Elvis theme behind the song titles. I hoped some of his gospel music would be less obviously Elvis, but I discounted how many diehard Elvis fans exist in all genres of his work. For her devotion to Elvis, Andrea will receive a deck of kitschy Las Vegas themed playing cards.

Robert Johnson at The Quotidian Hudson guessed the theme about five seconds after our winner, making him the true runner-up. Readers may recall Robert’s win during last month’s Christmas music extravaganza, one that required luck and multiple comments to be drawn from the hat. This week’s theme needed a little more skill. Robert wins a delightful set of Las Vegas themed playing cards.

Nancy Hatch at Spirit Lights the Way is the winner of this week’s contest. On Thursday, she logged onto the blog at just the right moment and scored. Though we did not spring the extra cash to have Elvis conduct our ceremony, it was our original intent. Nancy wins Cootchie Hooch, a deck of tacky Las Vegas themed playing cards and a pair of lucky dice used in a casino in Vegas. Congratulations, Nancy!

Thanks to everyone for reading and playing this week. Your presence made us feel like you were there in The Little White Chapel with us, and we couldn’t ask for a more eclectic, esteemed group of guests.

Butt Scooting Boogie

MTM and I spent 24 hours in  Zion National Park for our second honeymoon, part of our ‘renew our vows in Vegas’ extravaganza. Zion is more to my liking. In spite of the snow and ice, we managed four hikes in a 24 hour cycle (including hiking in the dark. MTM’s idea.)

We almost wrecked into the entrance sign gawping at the canyon view.

A quick stop at the Court of the Patriarchs.

The view from the trail to Hidden Canyon. It was a solid sheet of ice. Somehow, I did it with no cleats or snowshoes. Some butt scooting was involved.

I make friends everywhere I go.

Next time, we are doing The Narrows. (Yes, I will have to walk in the river. And swim. I’m already planning my prescription for Valium. But, dang, I must get better photographs of this place.)

A scary footbridge on our last hike.

The sun sinking on the last hike of our day, the Canyon View Trail. We’re already planning our next visit to Zion. No kooky vows renewal in Las Vegas will be involved.

Stay tuned for a post later today to distribute prizes to the winners of this week’s blog theme contest. I am the real winner, because you read my blog. Thank you for stopping here, pausing a few seconds or a few hours, commenting and liking, and sharing my stories with others. I hope your life has as much beauty and wonder as Zion.

We’re Marching to Zion

Thursday night, we renewed our vows in Las Vegas. Twenty-four hours is what we get for a honeymoon. The antithesis of the bling and pulse of Sin City – that’s where we chose to be.

Thirsty air. It cracks my lungs as I heave my feet onto the emaciated red dirt. I breathe deeper, gut-wrenching yoga intakes that seem to split my insides. Desert air acts on my organs like lime to soil. It clings to the wetness and sucks it from every crevice of my being.

Humidity. Maybe it’s the source of my self-doubt, my personal sabotage, my nagging voices.  Unchecked wetness feeds things like mold, mildew, and rot, the leaches that rob a thing of life itself, given enough time in the proper incubator.

All I know is this: when the dust billowed around my boots last night, I danced in it. Dry particles whooshed through me, scraping everything.


Tomorrow's post will be a series of photos from Utah's Zion National Park.


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