Friday, November 11, 2016

Embracing My Inner Pollyanna

My California Girl called me the day after the election. Distraught. When you're distraught about something you call your mom, right? She should be able to fix it, make it better. But I couldn't fix it. I couldn't make it better. As I tried, she only became more enraged that I wasn't as devastated as she was. She's an intelligent, articulate woman, who thinks faster on her feet than I do on mine.  The penny drops s-l-o-w-l-y here. It takes a while for stuff to sink in. Clunk. With her though it had sunk in right away and she was undone.


 It is beyond comprehension that a person who has said such vile things about so many people could be elected president. Since nothing I said to try to calm my daughter was perceived as helpful, I want to let Kahil Gibran have a shot at it.....

"Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so
He loves also the bow that is stable."

It humbles me that five intelligent, articulate and very individual "arrows" arrived here through me. Makes me feel like a "portal" of some kind. I can no more imagine "the house of tomorrow" than my parents could have imagined the "house" of today. Each one of my children "have their own thoughts" and I am sure that they and their peers will step up to this challenge with the can-do attitude and creative thinking that, it seems to me, is typically American.

When I channel my Inner Pollyanna, people (husband, daughters, sons) smile indulgently, shake their heads and roll their eyes. I grew up in a world that has vanished, a world that protected me for a long time from some of the harsher realities of life. As a resident alien (will I be asked to leave now?) I do not have a vote, but if I did I would have chosen to abstain. There is no good choice between a rock and a hard place.

(It may look like I'm changing the subject here but I'm not.) They say there are no such things as co-incidences. Maybe "they're" right. Doing some badly needed dusting on bookshelves this week, I came across a book my oldest son sent me several years ago. I had good intentions at the time. I meant to read it. But, like lots of my good intentions, it disappeared under a gradually growing pile of other books. I sat down on the floor and started reading (this often happens when I'm in the throes of a spurt of domesticity.) And the further I read the more I found myself smiling.

Best book I could have read this week.Validation! Someone else agrees with me --- there is nothing wrong with having your Inner Pollyanna control your view of the world. The title of the book is "A Quaker Book of Wisdom - Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service and Common Sense," by Robert Lawrence Smith. It made me think I must have been switched at birth and should really have been a Quaker.

I wish I could quote all of it to my children and anyone else who thinks we're on our way to hell in a hand basket, but I'll confine myself to quoting only one passage ---

"Accept the fact that our lives are only partly in our own hands. Luck, the actions of other people, and a host of circumstances beyond our control will invariably affect the outward shape of our lives. Often we don't have the luxury of making choices. Our lives are lived as if we were riding in a canoe down a strongly flowing river, just trying to stay upright and get to the end. Character is measured by how we deal with this reality. Why do good people suffer and live in misery while others, arguably not as good, experience life as a warm, sunny day? The beginning of understanding is when, after asking why, we become silent."

That is #5 in a list of ten life lessons listed at the end of the book. From silence, the Quakers believe, comes wisdom and it doesn't take a genius, or Pollyanna, to connect the ubiquitous lack of silence in the world today to a woeful lack of wisdom.

So call me Pollyanna.

I can take it.

And R? I hope this helps.


Elephant's Child said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Ali Honey said...

I'm so glad to be a New Zealand Kiwi!

Sabine said...

This is very good to read, incl. the quotes. It has happened that advice I had given to my daughter and which she (even angrily) rejected at the time has appeared on her fb page or even made its way back to me. We all need to grow up all the time.

Barb said...

Wonderful. I believe in silence.

The Rogue One said...

I love you so much, and thank you for writing this. Tears have mostly left me in the past 48 hours, in lieu of more critical thinking, but this brought them back for altogether different reasons.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I'm still expecting someone to pop up and shout "April Fool!".

molly said...

Ali --- I'm worried about you this morning after hearing of the NZ earthquake and Tsunami. I hope and pray you are safe.

Sabine --- Growing up is a life long effort. I'm still working on it!

Barb --- My dad was fond of saying "A closed mouth catches no flies."

R --- No words, just hugs.

S&S --- I wouldn't hold my breath if i were you!

molly said...

EC --- Thank you for reading. Politics is such slippery ground. I usually shy away from it , here at least. But these are exceptional circumstances...

ganching said...

My heart goes out to all those who are devastated by this result. We are living in dangerous times. I want to go and bury my head in the sand ideally somewhere in the west of Ireland.

molly said...

ganching --- That sounds like an excellent plan that would also work for me!

Thimbleanna said...

Ahhh, I'm late to the party, but a beautiful post Molly. I needed your beautiful quotes this morning, even if for altogether different reasons. As for the mess, I can only surmise, that when stuck between a rock and a hard place, people ignored the properties of the rock and the hard place and turned to the issues. Then voted for thier defining issues, rather than the rock or the hard place. I'm just glad the election didn't happen the same week as Thanksgiving -- it's given people time to reflect and hopefully many family gatherings will be the better for it.

molly said...

Anna --- Yes. We needed time to calm down. The T man also needs to calm down and act in a way that will help the country move forward and pull together. It would be a total nightmare if he brought the same attitude to the presidency as he brought to the campaign....I think the reason people all over the world look up to America is because her people are resiliant and always seem to rise to whatever challenges/roadblocks are thrown in their path.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Well, this post sure caught this Quaker's attention! I started crying as soon as I saw the results coming in and I continue to feel a great deal of fear. I'm ordering the book - I could use the reminding about centering down.

molly said...

SAW --- although I finished it at least a month ago, I keep that book handy and dip in and out of it just to remind myself. Well worth reading.