Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Pleg

Scout: “Hey, Mom, have you ever had the pleg?”

Me: “You mean the plague?”

Scout: “No, the pleg…eh – eh – P-L-E-G.”

Me: “What is the pleg?”

Scout: “It’s like a disease.”

Me: “It’s the P-L-A-A-A-G-U-E, Scout. Not the pleg.”

Scout: “Oh. So, have you ever had the plague?”

Me: “No, Scout. I’ve never had the plague.”

Scout: “Well, my friend, Peyton, had the plague from touching a dead animal and he has to take shots everyday.”

Me: “Peyton is a diabetic, Scout. He doesn’t have the plague.”

Scout: “Well, if you touch a dead animal, bad things can happen.”

Me: “True that. Go to sleep, Scout.”

The Phenomenon of Classical Conditioning

It seems like we are always given two choices. It really doesn’t matter what the situation, there is always a choice. The obvious: paper or plastic, yes or no, left or right. But even when things are handed to us and it seems like we do not have control, we still have the two choices of accept things how they are or don’t accept things and try to change them. Survive or give up. It is almost like the classic fight or flight concept that they teach in early psychology.

Although many of us find ourselves stuck in a Pavlovian rut, we do have the ability to change things. The hardest thing to change sometimes seems to be our very minds. We easily believe what others tell us, especially if it is negative, and soon we feel a despair that is so heavy that it is pulling us down. I think women do it more than men. This sucks. It is like an abusive relationship. Women tend to stay a lot longer when a man would have just walked away. I can totally empathize to a point. Having been in an abusive relationship myself, I think that the metal and verbal abuse just lays the groundwork for what comes next. It puts us in the frame of mind that we can’t do any better – or worse – that we don’t deserve any better. I am fortunate that I was able to break the cycle early and leave when it was time. But there are so many people who suffer for so long, or forever.

I am struggling now with the workplace. Working for a volunteer board has always had its challenges, but when it is so political that the people who do the work are treated like they are worthless and the “glad hand well met” is treated like royalty even though they are merely vessels of hot air and empty promises; it can start to get to you. So now the choice: leave or stay is the gut instinct, but even more so is the accept it or change it concept. The latter is such a difficult thing. If you accept it, then you have accepted defeat. If you try to change it – wow, what a long road. It is almost like a game of espionage. How true are your allies? Who is really in bed with whom? What deals are unspoken that you do not know about? Who is a sell out and who is not?

There are a lot of us that face difficult decisions every day. Single moms can really have it hard. Trust me on this one. Dealing with illness weakens us. Cancer sucks and rips people and families apart. Mouthy kids coupled with self doubt breeds uncertainty. Are you doing the best you can? Could someone else do it better? Did you make the right decisions? Would you do it differently if you could do it over? I hate that question. Let’s say we get a do over. If I did it over, I would screw up just as much, just in different areas.

I am struggling right now with staying focused. Keeping the eye on the prize is sometimes hard when you aren’t sure what the prize is. I don’t need a long dissertation about the heavenly prize, that isn’t what I am talking about. I know that God is in control, that all things come together for His good; treasures are being stored for me in heaven and all that stuff. I am talking here and now and this life on this earth and these everyday situations. I mean how many times did Pavlov have to ring the damn bell before the dog salivated? It makes you wonder how many times you can get kicked in the teeth before you accept defeat.

I love to get fired up about stuff. I love to get hot under the collar and ready for a fight. It means I am living and confident and ready to take on the world. But when too much happens at one time it makes you go beyond the passion and the fight and just feel flat. That is what I hate. I don’t want to accept things. I want to be a catalyst for change. I want to create my own future and mold my own destiny. I don’t want some figurehead or doctor or chamber executive in a badly fitted sear-sucker suit telling me how my story is going to end. I am stronger than I look. I am NOT going down without a fight. I am determined and I AM going to defy the odds.

An Unexpected Apology

Sometimes bad things happen to us that seem totally out of the blue. The sort of stuff that seems to knock the wind out of us and we can’t breathe. As hurtful as some of these things are, they can be equally confusing. People say that everything happens for a reason. There are times, however when it appears that there is no reason associated with our plight. After a few days or weeks or years, we move on. We heal from the pain and the need for reason subsides. We chalk it up to just being part of life. We consider it a character builder. And on the random occasion that our mind stumbles across the memory, the remembrance is fleeting and little if any thought is given to searching for answers. And then one day, for whatever raison d’être, a man sends you a message and tells you that his life has accumulated few real regrets, but that one of them is hurting you. And twenty years after the last time you spoke, he tells you that he is sorry. And then he tells you why he did what he did. And you sit there with your mouth agape and read the words again. For one of the handful of times in your life, you are speechless. You are thankful. You are overcome. You know the reasons. His vulnerability is humbling and you remember why you ever loved him to begin with. And from that point forward, on that rare instance when you hear that song on the radio that reminds you of him, you can smile.

Thank you for telling me. It means more than you know.