It seems like each day more new disposable products come on the market. We have everything now from disposable diapers to razors up to disposable Christmas trees.
We are so accustomed to instant gratification that we are too quick to dispose of our friends, family members, relationships and even marriages. Heck, even a presidential candidate threw out half of the voting electorate just the other day.
Our relationships fail for a host of reasons. We sometimes violate boundaries, live independently from one another, or worse, become dishonest or even destructive. Who wouldn’t want to run away from those attributes and delete that person into their trash bin? But that’s my point – is your failing relationship that insurmountable that there’s no breath of life left in it? I doubt it.
I consult with too many people that would give anything to have a second chance again. A young woman that I know would give anything to talk to her brother again if he just hadn’t pulled the trigger on his gun which he had pointed at his head. Or the husband that 20 minutes earlier dismissed his wife when she complained that he was spending too much time at the office was then notified that she just died in a tragic car accident.
If you believe that each action has a reaction, then you can apply that principle to any failing relationship. Try to discover why he/she violated the relationship by binging the stranger in and build on the new beginning should you consider it. Try and help that person find the right support group that can help them understand and heal their destructive behavior before it gets out of control. Remember, it takes two to Tango, but also, it takes two to stumble.
It takes about 40 years for a disposable diaper to biodegrade. By comparison an average marriage in the USA lasts only 8 years. And as for those dead Christmas trees are concerned, there are many municipalities that are turning them into mulch rather than piling them up in a disposable landfill. Maybe we can turn something that seems dead into something worth working with.
I often wonder why we as humans constantly have to repeat the same lessons over and over again. Albert Einstein defines this as insanity.
I met Curtis way back in 2000 when he about to start his new job at the World Trade Center. You could see the gleam in his eyes as he talked about it. “This is my ticket out of here!” he told me. “I am going to save enough money so that me and my girlfriend can move out of the projects.”
I believed him. He was young and ambitious but more importantly driven. I remember projecting my fear of heights onto him but he calmed me down saying that his office was not at the very top of the second tower, but several flights down. We both chucked at his attempt to shut down my fear. “Nah, Mike, nothing to go to stop me from getting ahead.”
It was over a year later when 9/11 shook our country. Like most New Yorker’s we all knew or knew of someone that died in the attacks. For me personally I was consumed with finding out about my own personal friends and family members that may have been down in lower Manhattan at that time. I was relieved to find out that everyone close to me was accounted for. The only odd and nagging feeling that I had was why was I thinking about Curtis so much? I didn’t have an appointment with him. I hadn’t seen any emails from him, so I just brushed it off thinking to myself that I will send him a note. I am embassed to admit that I had completely forgotten that he was working at the World Trade Center.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I learned that Curtis had died in the attacks. It was painfully sad for me becuase while I only had met him on two occasions, I remembered his excitment about his new leash on life. I recalled his passion and quest for a better life and how happy he was personally with his girlfriend.
I also recalled how I couldn’t shake him out of my thoughts on 9/11. My lesson taught to me by Curtis was that if you are constantly thinking about someone for what seems to be for no apparent reason – actually has a reason. And that reason is because they are thinking about you.
Eleven years later I still thank Curtis for that lesson and each time I get a consisent impression of someone, I reach out to them.
Have you ever been forced to suddenly stop what you were doing? Did you get angry at the event like I did recently? According to Native American folklore, the White Ibis represents danger and optimism.
Recently I was racing to an appointment that I was running late to. Somewhat familiar with the neighborhood, I turned off the GPS and veered onto a windy single lane road with a steep incline hill. The clock read that I had 6 minutes to get there, but I knew I had at least 8 more drive time minutes. I saw in my peripheral vision a school bus heading into the same direction. Like you, I didn’t want to get stuck behind a school bus making those frequent stops, so I hit the gas.
Just as I attempted to go that much faster I reached the top of the hill and encountered a
flock of White American Ibis birds crossing the road. Having no other choice but to stop I was seething at the birds waiting impatiently until they crossed. One lone Ibis behind the rest of the flock seemed to be mocking me as it took its time crossing. Its red beak was high in the air as if it was sticking his nose up at me. Honestly, I thought…keep walking! Those 45 seconds certainly seemed like eternity.
Descending down the hill while winding around the bend I wondered what the bird was trying to tell me, then it suddenly became clear. Just a yard a head of me a bunch of kids on their bikes racing like me except for one little girl that lost her balance on her tricycle. Barely able see her on the ground because she was in the shadow cast by the big oak tree on the street corner, I was able to stop in time to watch her get up back on her bike. I was angry with myself wondering what if I didn’t stop in time? What if I had my sunglasses on would I have been able to see her? I then wondered what if those Ibises didn’t get in my way.
It’s said that the Ibis bird is the last to be seen before a hurricane strikes, and the first to emerge once the storm has passed. I was grateful for my sign and remembered that if things are too hard to accomplish then perhaps it’s not meant to be. Things like trying too many times to fix that broken relationship or go against your gut instinct that says it just doesn’t fit right. How often have you encountered those signs from above?
Christmas arrived early for me this year. Last night in a dream Annette, a second mother to me from my early teen years, came to visit bringing me a very special gift.
Annette was Debbie and Mara’s mother, two of my closest friends growing up. Annette took a strong liking to me and always made sure that I was included in all of their family adventures including vacations, birthdays or even simple dinners out. She was that giving with me all the way up to three years ago when she died.
In my dream, Annette and I were walking through Miami Beach. I immediately noticed how much younger she looked. She was noticeably thinner and her hair was the biggest and brightest shade of red I’ve ever seen. What was truly a relief to see was how graceful and easy it was for her to walk. She seemed to be gliding along rather than limping and out of breath as I used to know her to be. She smiled at me as she noticed that I had puzzled, but pleasant look upon my face.
While walking along Washington Avenue she pointed out some places where she used to work. Clothing shops that have incarnated a few times over again and a few hotels that still exist today. While strolling along the avenue Annette referenced that she had a bitter fight with her sister “right in front of that store” that lasted for years and years. She said it was on of her biggest regrets because she missed many family events including weddings and birth announcements of the beautiful little babies that her nieces and nephews had. “But I am in a place where I can see them all now” she said wiping a few tears away from her sun blushed cheeks.
We went over to Collins Avenue where Annette showed me a couple of places where she once lived, then we stopped at a three story white apartment building with an impressive purple bougainvillea draping down the south side of the house. Annette stood there for a second then whispered, while being coy, that this was the place she had the most fun at before she met Joel! Joel was her husband for over 40 years. We finished our walk right in front of the Betsy Hotel on A1A. She sighed and said; “I am so glad she’s back.” Then handed me a box that was wrapped in traditional Hanukah paper. “You didn’t forget that I’m Jewish?” she jokingly asked. Inside the box was a picture frame with two sets of photographs side by side.
On one side of the frame was a picture of me with my parents. On the other side was Joel, Debbie, Mara, myself and Annette standing behind us three kids smiling wide from ear to ear with her arms spread out embracing us. I thanked her for the gift and graciously told her that she has always been so incredibly generous to me. This picture is especially meaningful since I’ve never seen it before. My eyes focused in on Joel and Mara. They both left us many years before, certainly way too soon. When I looked back up from the photograph Annette was gone and I thought she was probably going to the Betsy for a white wine Spritzer – her favorite late afternoon cocktail.
When I awoke I started to journal the dream/visit then called Debbie. After a few laughs Debbie asked me if I had known that mom lived in Miami Beach? “No” I said, “but thanks for telling me.”
Once I finished talking to her, I called both my parents and arranged a Christmas reunion with both of them present asking them to put aside their differences.
Joel, Mara and Annette at Mara’s Sweet 16 party.