samedi, juillet 13, 2013

When we don't hear when we choose not to listen

Over the past year, I've had the chance to speak with a few area Muslims, or practitioners of the Islamic faith.

I must admit that I'm embarrassed by my prior ignorance about this ancient faith, one of three "Abrahamic" religions.

I write about religion on a regular basis. I should know better, know more by now.

While there aren't that many Muslims in the United States, there are many millions around the world.  But our American stereotypes about many of them aren't just odd -- they can be actively harmful. It doesn't take much to fan the flames of Islamaphobia in America.

Yes, there are some Muslims bent on hurting Americans, and American interests just as there were (perhaps are now), Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland bent on hurting each other. Ethnic/racial/class hatred is an ugly thing.

But the point is one I make way too often when defending the Christian faith against flip atheists: it's not the faith that is bad, but the way it's been warped by some practitioners.  And the warping, as Dr. Blankinship of Temple University suggests in this column, has little to do with doctrine, and a lot to do with conflicting nationalisms.

Like Islam/Christianity/Judaism/Buddhism/Hinduism or not, we HAVE to find a way to cooperate with one another. As people who rent space on this planet, we have no choice.

Our neighbor (most often, not always) isn't the enemy -- our desire to dominate him or her might be.

mercredi, juillet 10, 2013

Doctor, doctor...,.

I'm working on my social life.

But I'm working (or not working) on caring less about a potential love life.

Sunday was a challenging day.  A guy I was going to see on Monday decided to return to the city where he's a consultant before we could actually meet (why we were going to meet in the first place is a long story, involving shared intellectual interests, similar sense of humor and something I can only term "energy.")

I had spent the past few weeks brooding over the volatility of the male gender.

Isn't that a lovely Victorian term? Yes, I knot it is commonly used to describe what female chickens do, but be a little romantic, puhleese.

So I brooded.  I shook my head at ever opportunity (I know, I coulda gotten a bad headache). I even wept a few times.

If I didn't like eating so much, I might have taken to my couch and called for the smelling salts.  I must go out and buy some, but then I'd have to find a housemaid to go with.

The point is, I was way too captivated by this whole mating dance gavotte. I had bought the fantasy that having  a guy around, or at least thinking I wanted a guy around, would solve the rest of  my desires for deeper friendship, meaningful work, helping others, showing up for life in the spirit, or setting a higher bar when it comes to the writer's life.

Even if you aren't trolling for a cute smile and witty banter (maybe you have those living at home rent free), I bet you know what I mean.

Lose that ten pounds, and you'll be a different woman.

Get that raise, and the other guys will invite you fishing more often.

Get into that school and your dad won't keep criticizing you.

Have another baby, and you'll be able to compete for mom of the year with the other preschool parents.

Sunday night I realized that a hot date (while it would be lovely) wouldn't make me whole. I can't control meeting a nice guy crazy enough (or liberated enough) to take me on. But I can do some work on other arenas of my life.

And ya know what?

My pal messaged me today. He's coming back to town soon (I honestly didn't expect to hear from him again).  He wants to see me when he's here.

I think we'll have a good time. And if he cancels again, no skin off my back.

I haven't written him off by any means. In fact, a few hours with a smart, cute cosmopolitan guy may be just what the doctor ordered.

But I think I need a strong prescription -- made of a few items in my own cupboard, and perhaps a couple from yours.

That's the best part of friendship -- being here for one another, helping each other figure out, together, what really matters  And not giving a hoot when a hoot is not what is called for.

Owl right with you?

dimanche, juillet 07, 2013

How the frisson free life has cost me dates -- and saved my sanity

Last week sometime, I was exchanging some random thoughts about dating with a guy I knew online.

Sometimes I have these conversations out of curiosity, or because I read something in his profile that sparked a question or reinforced an idea I had already.

A lot of people (by which he meant women) seem to have this idea of a perfect relationship, he wrote me. They seem to have a checklist.  But none of us is perfect. Honestly, he said, I find dating very frustrating.

I get this.

I can't tell you how many men proudly proclaim that they are "hopeless romantics" (the word hopeless might suggest that there is a problem with this term, but let's not be mean, it's simply a cliche).

They like to give flowers "for no reason."  They want to experience lingering glances across a crowded room that will indicate it's time to blow that pop stand and return home. They want excitement, thrills, the headon impact of soul-to-soul wordless communication.

Do you believe in magic?

I agree that a little fairy dust would be wonderful.  But a nonstop diet?

That could be cloying.

Look in the mirror for a moment, ladies and gents.

Once you were young and idealistic: it's great to believe life will be unalloyed bliss when you are sixteen.

But in your forties or fifties? C'mon.

More and more often, I run into men who have been married twice.  I'm sure that there are many women out there in the same position.  I don't judge them for it.  But I do wonder what they learned from the disappointment and chills of a marriage as it ebbs.

I wonder if they saw a counselor to hone their communication skills so that the next time, they could try to do better.

I wonder why women and men keep looking for the wrapping instead of the present.

When those little jolts of chemical attraction can't get you through a rough patch, patience and affection, a little wit and a lot of compassion can grease the wheels.

Don't get me wrong. I like passion and excitement as much as the next person.  But I want it with someone I can trust not to flit away at the first sign of conflict.  Because conflict will come, whether we want it or not.

So as I get to know someone, I am friendly, engaged, and hopefully, warm and caring.  As I said to a man last week, I want affection, warmth, and faith to grow gradually, like the black-eyed daisies just now unfurling outside my kitchen door.

The solitary life is better than the shock of finding out your suitor is leading a double one, or has expectations that seem to have been nurtured in a galaxy, far, far away.

"We have each other's backs" said a friend of mine a few months ago.  That's about as good a working definition of real love as I can come up with at the moment.

Pleasurable surprise at the revelation that the object of your affection is trustworthy, kind, and realy quite sexy is one thing.

Ecstasy is another.

There's a drug for that. And it kills.