Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Wise Still Seek Him

Wikipedia tells me that an epiphany is "the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something."

It's a great concept, it really is, but I'm not going to wait around for one to show up any time soon. I've done that for too long.

Today marks the second anniversary of my father's death. It feels so distant and not just by time; I feel emotionally detached from my dad's passing.

In some ways that distance is good. I am losing some of the anger I had toward him. What's the use of holding on to it?

And, as the economy continues to spiral into oblivion, I think more and more of the stories he told us about growing up during the Great Depression.

Perhaps we should call it the First Great Depression, given the nightmare scenario being played out of the world's financial markets.

I've been interviewing financial analysts for an story I'm working on and the news is pretty scary.

"The difference between the Depression and what's going on today," one man told me, "is that now you can't open the windows in the tall office buildings."

Another analyst told me he was against any stimulus package, advising that we should cut the dying industries now and move on.

"You've got to take the pain," he declared. "You've got to remove the cancer."

My dad knew a lot about pain--both giving and receiving. He used to talk about families being thrown out on the street; about my grandmother heating up flour and water in a pot and serving it for supper because that was all she had.

He told me about how my grandfather would leave the house during the holidays and do whatever he could to make sure his family had a decent Christmas. Of course, back then, children got fruit and nuts in their stockings, not computer games, cell phones or iPods, and were very grateful for it.

As a child used to getting toys, toys, and more toys every year, I couldn't begin to understand what my dad was talking about.

He told me that landlords were so desperate back then, they would offer people one month's free rent just to get them to move into their buildings.

My grandfather would take advantage of the offer, my dad said, and then move the whole family into another building as soon as that first month was up.

When I was a kid I kind of half-listened to those stories because they seemed so unreal, so far away from my world of three square meals a day and a roof over my head. I don't feel that way anymore.

Yesterday was also the Christian holiday of Epiphany and I attended an evening mass at Trinity Church, which is becoming a second home to me. While I'm still officially a Roman Catholic, I do love Trinity, but I suspect that has a lot to do with the really special people there and not the particular brand of Christianity.

The service was quite lovely, with a choir singing such hymns as "We Three Kings." I hemmed and hawed about staying late after work, but I'm glad I did.

Keep Watching The Skies

Rev. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones--he's one of the people I'm talking about--gave a fine sermon where he told us about a Christmas card he received that simply said, "the wise still seek Him." He encouraged us to do the same, to keep looking to the bright star shining in the sky.

I'm really enjoying my rediscovery of Christianity. I'm doing this by choice, as opposed to my experience in Catholic school, where we were terrorized by psychotic nuns who threatened our bodies with beatings and our souls with eternal damnation.

They nailed you in this life and the next.

So the new year is one week old and my resolutions--along with my nerves--are getting a bit frayed. I am not looking for epiphanies in 2009, although I'll glad accept any that happens to come along.

No, I'm focusing on gradual improvement in my life. New Year's Day was the starting gate, not the finish line.

I have cut down dramatically on my intake of diet colas in the last few days, which probably explains why I feel so rotten.

I want to cut down on the anger, too, and I'm sure less caffeine in my life will help, but right now the idea of trying to remain calm while going through caffeine withdrawals seems like trying to climb a mountain while wearing roller skates.

I always knew this stuff was bad for me, but I read an article on some health site that said quite plainly that if you're drinking four or more colas a day, you're addicted to caffeine. I didn't like the sound of that.

I knew I couldn't go cold turkey; that's an epiphany by force. It's never worked before, so I'm opting for the slow and steady approach.

I'm been trying to stay in the present, trying to keep the past from eating into my future. It's not an easy task I've chosen for myself, but like my diet cola diet, I know that ultimately I'll be better for it. Just feels like it's a long walk to the finish line.

I've been having a hell of a time getting this post done, thanks to this lousy Dell computer of mine. But then saying "lousy Dell computer" is the height of redundancy.

I've been doing a lot of fuming and a bit of swearing, but I've also been catching myself, stopping the rage by telling myself that "change happens now--not tomorrow." No miracle cure, but I can say that I've been semi-successful.

I had a bit of a set-back on the personal development front. I was thinking of taking the Solo Performer III class at the People's Improv Theater. I love the teacher, I've enjoyed the first two classes, and I've met a lot of cool people.

But part of me didn't feel like committing to another 8-week class and I've got a several other projects going that I would really like to finish. However, instead of just making the decision not to take the class this semester, I debated and weighed the pros and cons until the class sold out.

This is something my shrink calls "win by losing" and I don't like it one bit.

I hate letting things happen as opposed to taking action. Best bud Hank told me that if I really wanted to take the class I would have signed up for it. And he's right. I told him how upset I was by my failure to take decisive action.

"Cut yourself a break," he said.

That's good advice. There's a big difference between taking the pain and asking for it.

That almost sounds like an epiphany.


Mrs. Motley said...

Hey, Rob. I'm too tired and stressed and just generally in sorry shape to come up with a witty or enlightened comment, but I wanted you to know that I'm out here reading, rooting for you.

You're going to be okay. Keep on telling it like it is. We're all struggling, I think. You're just more honest than most of us.

Rob K said...

Oh, thank you so much. I always feel better when I read something from you.

And rest assured that I am rooting for you and yours as well.

Now get some rest! :)

Calamity Jen said...

That does sound like an epiphany. Maybe you should write it down and post it somewhere prominent in your house -- along with "Change happens now -- not tomorrow." You've got the wisdom, you've just got to hold onto it.

Rob K said...

Friends like you make holding onto wisdom so much easier.