We are creatures of habit, you and I. I can’t think of a single aspect of my life where my old habits don’t rise up and try to take over. In situations like flossing, that’s a pretty good coping strategy. But a plate of cookies on a stressful day or being sarcastic when angry…not so much.
I have another habit of circular speak. I don’t mean circular logic but something more along the lines of taking a long way around to get to my point. Back when I was teaching, I often would interrupt my lecture to tell students, “Hang in there. The circle will round.” The way my brain works simply isn’t in a short, straight path. Never has, and apparently never will be.
But there is a more telling circularness to my speaking that I have come to notice over the course of blogging these past seven years.
I write lots of analogies.
My friend John Barnes first called me out on that aspect of myself and when he did, my reaction was more along the lines of, “Okay” than “Pshaw!” I was always the kid who loved those analogy problems on standardized tests even though I figured they didn’t show any aptitude for any real life skill. But I do like analogies. They fit me.
Here on my blog, I find I often write about a topic that feels safe and I use it as an analogy for something I’m not quite ready to talk about. Sometimes the topic feels too contentious and I don’t want to deal with the potential for ugly comments. But sometimes it isn’t my whole story to tell even if my heart is full of that story.
For example, when I wrote Healing Aching Hearts, I got lots of very sweet comments from wonderful people about my dog’s death. And it is true that my dog did die and time is helping ease the pain of losing him. However, what really inspired me to take that second photo in the post and then write about it wasn’t simply my dog’s death.
I was inspired by the hurt I know people are facing – people I know and people I know of. A minister I’ve met and respect lost a cousin in the terrorist attack on Emanuel AME church. A friend of mine’s marriage is ending. Another friend’s spouse just died and another’s child has cancer. All I can think of is how much those people must be hurting. Because my heart hurts. And hearts don’t love differently regardless if they are loving a pet, a cousin, a spouse, or a child.
Hearts love. That is what makes life so beautiful. But hearts also hurt, and that is what make life so hard sometimes.
When I was a kid, I learned that asking for stuff was both fruitless and frowned upon. There was a whole spectrum of reasons to not ask for stuff that started with “afford it” and ended with “isn’t polite.” But most of the middle was confusing stuff about whether I deserved things or earned them. And honestly, most of those rules were made up by me as I tried to make sense of my world.
I remember once being at my grandmother’s house. She offered me a cookie. It was an oatmeal raisin cookie and it was delicious. I wanted another one (or twenty…they were tasty!) but I knew I wasn’t supposed to ask for one, polite manners being what they are. So I didn’t ask. Instead, I complimented my grandmother on her baking skills and how delicious the cookies were. I may have piled on the compliments a bit thick.
I don’t actually remember what they tasted like although I have a similar recipe so my memory plays tricks. But what I do remember is the feel of the vinyl under my finger as I nervously rubbed the edging of the kitchen chair beneath me. And how blue the sky was behind my grandmother’s head. And how deep her chuckle was before she asked me if I wanted another cookie.
It was the first time I remember using my circular speaking and I got a cookie out of it. I was four years old and learned that lesson well.
Nearly every hard conversation and over half the medium-hard conversations of my life involve some kind of that circular speaking. It’s hard for me to just come out and speak my mind some times – especially if I have a bunch of feelings wrapped up in it.
I’m not the only one missing somebody. I really hope folks are able to find some small yellow flower growing in the midst of the trampled grasses of their lives.
Because one thing is true: the circle rounds. We just need to hang on long enough to make it back around.
And as proof of the rounding circle, this is Meli. She’s a hound/shepherd mix from Maui. Did you know that there is a program through the SW Washington Humane Society, Hawaiian Air and Alaskan Air to bring dogs from the Humane Society in Maui to SW Washington (and probably other places – give the Humane Society a call)? All you have to do is fill out some tiny paperwork and up to 2 dogs will be flown to PDX. Doesn’t cost the human a penny but can mean everything to the dogs. Someone did that, which meant Meli got to come here and we found her.
We don’t know a thing about Meli except that she needs someone to love her and someone to love back.
She’s terrified and not yet ready to trust us.
But I trust her and the love our family had for Charlie….
The circle rounds and in this case, it means that another sweet dog will have a family. And our hearts are finding more flowers in the fields of dying grasses.