Monday, January 28, 2013

Going Solo

He was at his favorite bistro having an early Sunday dinner alone. He was used to his Sunday dinners alone. He'd have  a nice glass of red wine while he thought over the week past and plan the week coming up. There were no encumbrances upon him. He answered to no one but himself. He had decided a long time ago that the best way to live was by himself. He had given up on relationships. They were too much trouble. The time given to them considering when to have dinner, what event they would both like, in general having to consider the other person rather than only himself was binding not freeing. So the dates he made to see events were what he chose, in the time he chose and if his advances were spurned, which I might add generally were not, he'd find someone else who was more receptive. And of course the event was the most important thing not the person he was with. Yes he thought as he sipped his glass of red wine, going solo was the way, until recently that is. He was thoroughly content with the way his life was going, that is until she entered it and he couldn't understand why. He was deep into the contemplation of this situation when he surprised his waitress with an order of another glass of wine before ordering his meal. This was unusual because he was such a structured individual he only had, always, two glasses of wine, one before the entree and one during the meal. Tonight he was breaking his routine and that was unusual.

Yes they had met only a few months ago. She was an older woman by some years yet he found her fun and interesting and she seemed to find him interesting also. It was difficult to find the time to get together because she was retired and he was still employed, doing well and enjoying what he was doing. Yet he still found the time to talk to her, be with her go places together. Even though they came from different generations they seemed to enjoy the same things. His preference for music was more upbeat and she was struck with the sentimentality of The Great American Songbook but after he listened to her music he came to the conclusion it wasn't bad, not what he would prefer but if she liked it he liked it also. He found he no longer enjoyed his solo dinners and when he had them he found himself wishing she were there with him. Eating and drinking alone wasn't bad but there wasn't the laughter, or sharing of the day, and there were no beautiful eyes to look into and dream of holding her. Everything he did before, going to the Yankee games with his friends, having a few beers, dating others all became shallow because he found himself thinking of her most of the time except when he had to concentrate upon his work. He took a gulp of his wine as he ordered his meal. She always told him to enjoy wine it had to be sipped, tasted to be enjoyed, not gulped. When the salmon was delivered to his table he ordered another glass of red as he gulped the last amount of wine that was left in his glass wishing she was there to tell him laughingly not to gulp.

He enjoyed the way this bistro prepared salmon with their special sauce, yet tonight it had seemed to lose its taste. He considered the fact that he probably was falling in love with her but then rejected that proposition because of many reasons, not the least of which was the age differential. He thought he'd retire in about ten years and by that time she would really be old and who knows, infirm or not around at all. He gulped the rest of his wine and ordered another glass. His waitress thought this is really unusual  three glasses was out of the ordinary, four glasses? She wondered what could be happening to this guy. "Where could a relationship like this lead to", he thought. Besides he was getting along fine flying solo, he didn't have to think about anyone but himself and that was so much less of a problem.

He wasn't eating at all now just sipping his wine and thinking of her. "So what happens if I open up to her and broach the subject and I find out she doesn't feel the same about me. Maybe it is fun and the kisses we share delicious but just more fun? Maybe when she goes out with her friends she never even give me a thought, and I am just another guy in her life?". Oh it was so much easier before, no feeling of a hole in his heart when she wasn't there, no worry of age differences that might cause some speculation and who knows ridicule  His friends were not too reticent to express their feelings and they already were wondering if he was crazy going out with a much older women.

Then he thought "What if I pass this opportunity up and never get to share love with anyone again?". He knew that love isn't fascination or a torrid night in bed but love is much deeper touching the soul and the very marrow of one's bones. He was no spring chicken either. What if he passes this opportunity for happiness up and never has the opportunity again? What if this is his soul mate that he was waiting for most of his life and once past there were no others? He knew now that the objections formed in his mind were all about the future which we can try to predict but never fully understand. In worrying about the future which may never come we pass up the present which is all we really have. He knew the present without her wasn't worth a damn to him. So to heck with all the stuff he was concerned with he had to take advantage of the situation which was presented to him as a reality. He knew life without her would be no life at all. All this going solo stuff that seemed so good wasn't after all because it meant no matter how many friends he had, no matter how many conquests he could experience, nothing really mattered unless love was at the core of his life.

He asked the waitress to give him a fifth glass of wine and take away the food. When she came back with the wine and a look of concern on her face, he told her not to worry because it wasn't the wine that was pumping him up it was just something he had to do. After she left he took out his iPhone and dialed her number. "Hi this is....Oh you recognized my voice. Can I see you tonight there is something I want to talk to you about?".

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jesus & Mary, Mother & Son At A Wedding

Most of the world Knows the story recounted in St. John's Gospel, when Mary the mother of Jesus went to him for help because she heard the Bride & Groom were going to be greatly embarrassed by running out of wine and they needed help. We know that Jesus first reaction wasn't too ready for action but his Mother prevailed and he bailed them out by changing drinking water into fine wine.

This was the first of Jesus' miracles and very important but just as important is what was going on between mother and son and all the guests at the wedding feast. Mary had Jesus when she was around 16. Jesus was just getting started with his ministry and he assembled his 12 Apostles but he wasn't in full gear yet. He was about 30 at the time which makes Mary around 47. Joseph her husband had passed away at least a decade earlier. There was no life insurance in those days and a woman on her own had no source of income. It is presumed Joseph was a carpenter and he probably taught Jesus the trade. Jesus probably ran the business and was the sole support of Mary for all this time. Hopefully he was a good and honest Carpenter and they were well known around the small region. Mary was a good Jewish mother and Jesus a good Jewish son which probably means she was a bit controlling and he listened to his mama. 

There was a young couple getting married just about the time that Jesus was getting ready to launch his ministry which was to change the world. But before he hit the road he and Mom got the invitation to this wedding. Jesus was never one to pass up a party so he figured why not have a little fun before he hit the road with his 12 friends. Besides Mama wanted to go because she knew the couple since they were born. Now Jewish weddings were not a small thing, there was a lot of customs to be followed and if the girl was a virgin, presumably meaning first marriage, the feast would last 7 days. A lot of preparation went into this. Jesus and Mary were poor so one can presume the couple getting married were not well off. This means they could afford just so much. They figured out who was coming to the feast and how much food and drink was to be needed. They wouldn't turn away anyone but they hoped they wouldn't be embarrassed by running out of food or drink. This would not be a good way to start a marriage. 

The Bride went out to greet her Groom on the night of the marriage. The rituals were followed. AND the festivities began. Everyone was happy and by the third day many people showed up some unexpectedly, like Jesus. Jesus and his mom were expected but they weren't aware that Jesus would bring twelve friends to boot and guys who apparently ate and drank quite a bit. The fact of the matter many unexpected guests showed up. so that the party ran out of wine. Mary, she wasn't quite a Yenta, but she noticed that there seemed to be some trouble in paradise, so she sauntered over to eavesdrop and learned that the newly weds were going to be laughed at and derided because they ran out of wine. She wanted to help but she didn't have the money to buy all the wine that was needed. She wanted to do something and didn't quite know what to do but she promised the couple that with a little patience everything would be OK. What else could she do but go to her son for help? She remembered how she was told she was going to give birth. She remembered how Joseph had to flee with them into Egypt because that crazy Herod wanted to kill her baby. She remembered how Jesus was lost in Jerusalem when he was 12 and when he was found he was confounding the scholars of the temple. She knew he prayed a lot and seemed to have a solution for every problem they encountered after Joseph passed on. She knew he was going out now to preach the word of God and love. She didn't know quite how he was going to fix this but she had faith he could fix anything if he wanted. So she sought him out and found him laughing and sharing stories and jokes with his 12 companions.

She pulled him aside because she didn't want the whole assembly to know of the problem. She told him of the problem. Jesus, stepped back and with amazement said, "Mom, what is this to you and me? I am not ready to start my mission just yet and if I were to fix this then it would just draw attention to me.", To which she responded, "You know I don't ask too much of you, if you won't try to fix this for the wedding couple, then do it for me." Jesus stepped back, how was a good Jewish son going to disappoint his Mama when something was this important to her. "Gee, Mom!" was all he could utter, with a look of surrender. Mary without hesitation signaled to the Stewart to come over, "With regards to the wine problem, do whatever he (pointing to Jesus) tell you to do." and she walked away. Now Jesus couldn't embarrass his mother so he told the Stewart to have the stone water Jugs holding many gallons of liquid brought over. The Stewart threw his hands up in disgust, he knew the problem and now this Carpenter is going to try and make some kind of grape juice into wine. However he did what he was told and filled the jugs with drinking water. Jesus instructed him to taste it. It still looked like water but what the hell the Stewart thought he was already paid for his effort. So he drew it out and tasted what was the finest white wine he had ever tasted. He tried the other jugs and the same result happened. The Stewart looked at Jesus and asked"How the hell did you do that?" to which Jesus answered with a smile, "Only by using a mother's love which wasn't through hell but through heaven.", now how about giving me a glass of that fine wine. With that he called over to his Mom and raised his glass in a toast, "Everybody's happy now. Are You? I love you Mom." And so that was Jesus' first miracle which had a lot more going on than just turning water into fine wine. Heck anyone can do that but only a loving family can do things out of love brought out of years of living with each other.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rio De Janeiro, City of Love

He couldn't believe how gorgeous this city was. He was sent to Rio on a business trip. When he looked out the window as the plane descended he was just speechless . "This is one great City!", he thought.

He stayed at the Copacabana a fine old line five star hotel right on the Avenida Atlantica facing the Copacabana beach. A little further up was was Ipanema made famous by the song. But it was a stretch of sand, beautiful water with waves crashing up against the shores and beautiful Cariocas, even more beautiful than the songs made them out to be. Hair long and flowing. Bodies toned and tanned ready for anything, soccer included.

Luckily the business part of the trip was over rather quickly but he had instructions to wait for the contract signed, sealed and completed before he was to return home. This meant a lot of legal bantering between lawyers leaving him with nothing to do but wait. He enjoyed every minute of the waiting. He had breakfast poolside. Spent a few hours at the beach, and got to know the stores and clubs along the Copacabana.

Then one day while taking some rays at the beach he met Marina. She spoke a little English with the nicest Portuguese accent he ever heard. They had a little trouble communicating with the spoken word but the language of love needed no interpretation. They spent days in bathing suits, nights better dressed as they ate, drank and danced the night away. They found themselves to his room and made sweet, hot, passionate love. He couldn't tell if she was falling in love or just having a good time with the Gringo from North America. But to tell the truth he didn't care, he was drunk with the beautiful wine of love and touch.

Finally, he got the word from the home office that  it was time to pick up the contract and the cashier's check that went along with it.This meant he had to leave in two days. That night as they were at supper he held Marina's hands and professed his love. He asked her to wait for him to come back and they would marry and she could come home to the USA with him and spend the rest of their lives in connubial bliss. For once Marina looked like a little girl, she was afraid. She wasn't sure if they were truly in love to commit to a lifetime together. She was truly confused and upset not knowing what to do follow her head or her heart. They agreed to give the whole thought of a lifetime together more thought. He had to leave but he promised he would return. They spent the rest of the night dancing the Samba finally going to his room for perhaps one last night of love.

She came with him to the airport. He was leaving the city he grew to love and perhaps the only girl he truly felt he could commit to for a life time. As they kissed good bye, Jobim's , "Wave" could be heard in the background. He pleaded with her to stay with the wave of love this great city had given them for each other. He asked her to be true to him knowing he really had no claim on her or she on him. 

As the plane took off and circled he got his last look at Rio, the city he came to love and hoped that this city of love would keep Marina in the clutches of love swallowed up in the wave of emotions for him.

So close your eyes
For that's a lovely way to be
Aware of things your heart alone was meant to see
The fundamental loneliness goes
Whenever two can dream a dream together
You can't deny
Don't try to fight the rising sea
Don't fight the moon, the stars above and don't fight me
The fundamental loneliness goes 
Whenever two can dream a dream together
When I saw you the first time was half past three
When your eyes met mine it was eternity
By now we know
The wave is on its way to be
Just catch the wave don't be afraid of loving me
The fundamental loneliness goes 
Whenever two can dream a dream together 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our Choices, Are They Really Freely Made?

The other day a Facebook friend sent me a quote:

"Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It is not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make. PERIOD!"

When I first read that quote my immediate reaction was to take it at face value as being One Hundred Percent correct, especially since I was making the same point to someone about choices made that have lasting affects on one's life. But as I thought about this quote something began to gnaw at my conscience. While it is true that everything we do depends on our choices about limited opportunities presented to us and the ramifications of those choices AND we own those choices because we and only we make them, it is also true that our environment certainly influences the choices we make. That environment includes where we are, our family or lack of, when maturing, how rich or poor one is and believe it or not our age, all this and many more things affect choices we make.

We live in a western civilization that while not perfect is pretty far ahead of other parts of the world when it comes to, let us say, the treatment of women. The choices made by the women in our part of the world is far different from the choices made by those living in the back woods of India, Africa, Afghanistan. There are more choices to be made among a variety of opportunities for the women of the western world than those others referenced. I would say the choices made by the women in the less advanced civilizations are ones they own, they made them, correct? But are they really responsible for every decision and choice they make? It doesn't seem so, does it?

Poverty, economics, can certainly have an effect upon every choice one makes. Certainly the Kennedys or the Astors have much more opportunities available to them therefore giving them the ability to make choices that are much easier than those who have less assets at their control. The kid who grows up in the slums of
South America where they have to pick through the garbage grounds for sustenance  or even the kid in the slums of Chicago and New York who see the deprivation up close of the haves and have nots, are more prone to acts of violence or stealing just because of the fact that the world does not give them the ability to make better choices.

As we grow older, from fully dependent on our parents or guardians each step leads us to making decisions based on our age in life, for instance marriage, earnings and health to name a few things that age itself leads us to make choices based on our situation in life and how old we are. The very fact of age can lead us to poor decisions because the options become less and less.

The interaction between people, our environment, past and present affect our choices made that while owning those choices they are influenced greatly by the totality of the person making those decisions. The lovers professes true and ever lasting love. But one that comes from a Mormon background, might see that love including more than one while one coming from a more traditional background means an exclusive, monogamous relationship. The choices made are owned by these parties but they have been greatly influenced by their background and could very well cause the lovers to break up because of the differences in the decisions made. So who is to blame? The lovers for the choices and decisions made? Have they really made the decisions, choices freely? The quote I started with follows:

"Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It is not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision you make. PERIOD!"

I don't think so. While it is true we must be responsible for our choices. The choices between limited possibilities will determine where we go with our lives and we must be responsible for decisions we make. But  to say "blame" must rest only with us, and I am not sure "blame" is a word I would use, is like taking a quote out of context, for we are the sum total of our experiences, our place in life we find ourselves, including age, youngest to oldest, and everything else that makes us the person we are, is what finally is responsible for the choices, decisions made be it for the good or bad, depending on how one feels with one's state in life.