Category Archives: healing

Put A Stake In It.

 

The last of the tomatoes were done.

Unlike squash, they wouldn’t have survived creeping across the garden soil; their vines required staking, this year by aluminum wire cages. Stepping into the collapsing mess of metal, I reached down and plucked the final fruit from its stem, inhaling for the last time that distinctive, acidic scent.

This season, everyone seemed to have had a stake in something.

I was a professional musician. Roughly half of my colleagues either’d had contracts with an established organization, or hoped for hire; the rest were investing in a newer venture, because it served them in familial ways.

After having taken a tally of all concerned I’d discovered that, just as my beloved would suggest, none of those involved had wanted to risk their own potential benefit by standing against anything – least of all, it seemed, any moral component in actions taken. None of them, that is, but me.

And, so, I’d been left facing my remaining options. They were few.

1.) Take whatever I could get, which would likely be a rare to never hire by the established organization’s newly created collective of contracted members;

2.) Join the new venture, which clearly served first those already attached – by either employ, or enrollment – to a local institution.

In short, both actions sidelined me. The possible motives had emerged, and none of them were attractive: a.) I was perceived as aging out? b.) I was not accepted, because I did not submit to those who sought authority over me?

The third option only became clear after I had confronted the initial two and found them both undesirable:

3.) Walk away.

Facing the reality that my net income would only be marginally affected, seeing as that generated by both options had never, in the past, even remotely covered the number of uncompensated hours, the likelihood of garnering more creative time had begun to feel more like a reward than a punishment.

And, so, the decision was actually easy.

The outcome, however, I could not have predicted.

First, there’d been the sheer relief. Had there really been that much pressure, and stress? Being locked into a work schedule, occupying weeknights and weekends, pre-determined by those outside of myself. Yes; yes, there had. The release of this weight was euphoric in its effect; I felt as if I’d just been granted an unlimited vacation!

But, secondly, I’d begun to note a silence. Nobody seemed interested in remaining in touch, even those I’d thought were friends.

My declaration of intent was never challenged, no attempts made to persuade a re-consideration, only two polite assurances of future, independent collaborations from among dozens. Stock replies, and more silence.

The stakes were just too high.

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A favorite metaphor among Biblical apologists is the fruit of the vine. Believers, so called, are to bear it; if they do not, they are cut off from the host.

I love tomatoes. I eat them, nearly every day when they are in season. But, maybe I am more like a squash, or a pumpkin. Meant to grow on another vine, close to the soil.

I’ll stake my life on that, instead.

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© 9/24/18   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  All rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material, however unimportant.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Sink.

 

They had said they’d do it.
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For him, it was a plan. And, that was hard.
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Open ended all the way, perhaps borne of a deep seated low self esteem (“I don’t deserve to want anything”) he’d much rather let the overwhelm swirl in his head until, completely oppressed, 3 o’clock p.m. would arrive at which moment he would fatalistically declare: “The day is over.”
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She, on the other hand, the result of 25 years of the strictly imposed assembly line mentality expressed in the form of a teaching position within public education, had learned – entirely against her nature – to plan. A day could never reach its end, with any hope of success, without a clear, linear, step by step process divided precisely into 40 minute increments.
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Thus had become her life.
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And, in order to actually prove her worth (another deep seated esteem problem), she’d managed to pack active effort into each waking minute. For every one of those 25 plus years, should less than an hour of uncommitted time appear, this would manifest as a vacation – gorging on cookies and ice cream, in front of late night television, in the words of the late Dudley Moore: “Time, well…spent.”
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He’d spent his operating from a point of zero expectation. Trained in nursing, submerged in the kind of erratic, exhausting days and weeks known only to the world of American human health care. No two twenty four hour periods ever the same, in any way, he’d grown to covet the equally protracted blank spaces whenever they presented themselves. Yet, his work was never self directed; rather, at the mercy of emergent need, what he called familiar was an act of response.
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She, the head of the classroom, had always been required to generate action. Furthermore, framed in forty minutes at a time by day (and, two and a half hours at evening rehearsals) for each of these, clock watching had become the driver; the challenge was beginning, developing, and completing – and, then, doing it all again, all day until – sure enough – 3 o’clock, when the day shift really did end.
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Here they then were, at her house, facing thirty years of accumulated kitchen paraphernalia. Hers had been a deferred fantasy, that of preparing hot h’ors doerves and sweet creme treats for enough guests to populate the living, dining, and music rooms, the attic loft, the backyard, and the wrap around porch. This wistful dream only realized once, at the house warming; thereafter, from the advent of Ronco Tv she had acquired every tool, slice/dice/splicer gadget, storage system, and portable fryer publicly performed by the proponents of InventHelp – only to completely ignore them, forthwith. There was no therapy for regret; full circle, having come around to both the application and compartmentalization of this lifetime, even the storage system had been of no assistance.
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Time: Four hours.
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Every cupboard expunged of its static story – the two dead mice in their sticky traps to the trash, their hole into the bottom shelf plugged with steel wool and Duct tape; the Pyrex bowls graduating across the counter, the holiday potpourri, candles and mugs sent to the Xmas box, the lone Pampered Chef casserole dish holding its breath in fear of the impending sterilizing pool; the Princess crystal wine glasses, the portable mixer and French press and Bullet and Bonzai Chopper and George Foreman grill, the rice maker and bread maker and Jack LaLane Juicer and wafflemaker all disinfected and repositioned behind each cupboard door – he and she had successfully reoriented her entire food preparation space into the back end of the second decade of the twenty first century.
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She kissed his mouth, and smelled his neck, and smiled him out the door. Back at his place, the dogs needed out, the tomatoes staked. She turned, and took the five steps from the mudroom to the edge of the double wide porcelain basins completely invisible beneath their mound of soaking Rubbermaid and stainless steel. A sink load of dishes was worth doing alone. Because she couldn’t, they’d brought themselves all the way through her past to their present, and they’d done it together.
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© 6/25/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo     All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material
littlebarefeetblog.com

The Impression.

 

“That’s impressive.”

Sigh.

Have we not tired of being impressed?

Yet, in tandem with the dissolution of standard bearing, implicit honesty, and conscience, now we are subject to presentations intended to do just that.

Fast. Agile. Loud. Complex. Obscure. The “wow” factor.

But, impressions, even those privately gleaned through earnest searching, are at best shallow and short lived. Why? Because the motives behind the actions of their source are fed by ego.

One voluntarily seeks to impress in order to obtain something. Perhaps merely praise. In other cases, promotion, or a kind of awe which generates momentary respect.

Whenever ego is the driver, what is brought forth actually creates distance. Watchers and listeners are put off, pushed away, intimidated. Such impressions serve only to separate, even segregate, people from one another.

Used to be those who were “trying to impress” were looked down upon as conceited. All this serves to support the theory: impression is without soul.

That which is of inspiring value is self-sustaining. Beyond merely making its mark upon us, it bores through the superficial layers until, reaching who we are, it leaves a lasting change in us. And, the source of such a profound experience is then sought after. We are drawn to the one who provides accessible value to us, rather than being left to gaze from afar.

Don’t impress me. Just move me. Provoke and unsettle me, heat me up. Make me think, expand my perceptions, broaden my vision, open my heart. Make me feel, touch my emotions, stir me, feed me instead of yourself. Make a valued connection, with me.

If that is not your purpose, pack up your show. Move on down the road.

I will be happily unimpressed.

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© 9/8/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo    All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Please respect original material. Don’t be impressed. Thanks!

littlebarefeetblog.com