What if…

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I have no idea if what I’m about to write is correct, or incorrect, or partially correct and partially incorrect, or totally fiction. So, you can ignore me if you wish.

During my six years (yes, six years) of therapy, my doctor informed me, more than once, “Mark. You are very intelligent. More than intelligent enough to take a problem apart, and put it back together, to see how it works. You can turn the problem over. Turn it on its ear, look at it sideways, and take it apart in a totally different way, and put it back together. And learn more about it.”

Well. Since the events of November 8th, 2016, in the United States, I’ve been doing that. I’ve been taking apart the problem, and analyzing it, and putting everything back, to see if that’s how it makes sense to me. It’s been a harsh two years. I’ve lost a lot of people I once could speak with. I’ve had many parting of the ways, caused by ideologies that didn’t like each other. But, I kept at it. And I’m still keeping at it. But, now? Now, I have the beginnings of an understanding that’s grown enough I can put some of it into words. This may sound like a lot of what if questions. But, this is not me asking questions.

I don’t want any answers.

This is me, thinking perhaps, things are not what they seem.

What if. What if there are people who believe it’s not the job of government, the United States Federal Government, the State Government, the County or City government, or any other government, to write laws that dictate how people behave.

What if. What if there are people who believe it’s not the job of any government to take care of people. Not the job of the government to feed the hungry, to make certain the sick get the medical care they need, to make certain the population is educated.

What if. What if there are people who believe it is the responsibility of people, human beings, neighbors, and friends, people of the churches, to feed those who are hungry, care for those who are sick, and need medical care, and keep themselves, and each other, educated, and learning, through life.

What if. What if there are people who believe crowd funding is a great thing, because it makes it easier for people to help each other. Because they can send $5 to help someone they don’t know, and will never meet, get the cancer treatment they need to stay alive. Because they can send $1 to help someone who got let go when the company closed, and now can’t pay the electricity bill to keep the heat and the lights on in their house.

What if. What if there are people believe neighbors, and neighborhood churches, should carry bag lunches to people living on the street, using their own money, or money they get from other neighbors, or from church members.

Somehow, I don’t think people who believe such things would view government mandated health care the same way as people who believe the government should guarantee everyone healthcare? Rather, I think they would have a totally different view of health care, one that’s almost incomprehensible, and makes no sense at all, to those who think it’s the government’s place to make sure we all have health care.

What if. What if there are people who believe gender is a private, personal thing, and not something to be shared publicly, or advertised. What if there are people who believe it is natural for some men to love men, and some women to love women, and they don’t have a problem with such love until they are told they have to publicly embrace such love as normal. What if they believe it’s normal for men to marry the men they love, and women to marry the women they love, and that they should follow the same path to marriage everyone else does, and find someone who feels it is OK to perform gay marriages. What if there are people who feel about this the same way they feel about marriages between people with different religions, such as Conservative Christian, and Muslim?

Somehow, I don’t think people who believe such things would view government laws declaring who can marry who, and which clergy is to be required to perform such marriages, the same way as those who believe government legislation is the only means of securing the right of marriage for all people, and not just for standard heterosexual marriages. I think they would have a totally different view of marriage, and again, it may well be incomprehensible to those who think it’s the governments place to guarantee everyone the equal opportunity to get married.

What if. What if there are people who believe sexual harassment isn’t placing your hand on a woman’s shoulder without asking, as you try to help them fix their computer, and are standing behind them, but is, rather, making an effort to observe the screen, and the actions the individual is taking, in order to better identify the problems?

What if. What if there are people who believe men are the victims of millions of years of biological processes, perhaps even evolution, where their biology pushes them to mate with women, and it’s not that they are predators, as portrayed in the press, but rather, they are biological beings, with body chemistries, and survival instincts, that some are better at controlling than others. What if there are people who believe that weaker men, men less likely to be selected by women as mates, are more likely to perform sexual assaults, because of the biological urge to survive, as a species.

Would those people who believe the laws of the government can mandate how people behave view sexual harassment, or even sexual assault, the same way as the people who believe such things as these biological processes?

If you have wondered what I am trying to say, trying to explain, when I tell you there is no right or wrong, no up or down, no left or right, no good or evil, no just or unjust, you should know, this is an example of what I’m trying to say. That I’m trying to ask, “What if?”

What if. What if there are people who believe there should be more churches like the one the entrance to the home development I live in. A church where, every Tuesday, from 1000 hours until 1400 hours, has a food service. They provide food for those who need it, as best they can. And they collect canned goods, and non-perishables from their congregation, and from anyone who wishes to contribute, as they can. And they’ve been doing this for over eight years now.

There are, it’s true, evil people in this world. There are, it’s true, hate filled, prejudiced, supremacists. But, not everyone who sides with the Republican Party, and with Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Ted Cruz is hate filled, prejudiced, or a supremacist.

What they are is different. What they believe is different. How they think, and react, to the same events, is different. They aren’t evil. They’re different. Strikingly different. With a different view of what government is, and how it should work. And what society is, and how it should work.

It may be that there are more hungry people than churches, friends, neighborhoods, and families can feed. It may be that medical treatments, and housing needs may be more than neighbors, and churches, and crowd funding, are able to support. But, does that really mean the government needs to take over? Or perhaps, the government would make a better supplement, when it’s needed, when churches, friends, neighbors, and families, aren’t sufficient.

As I said when I started these words. This is not me asking questions. This is me, finally figuring out how to put some of what I have been learning these past two years into words.

Will my words have any meaning to anyone? I don’t know. But, I do find, at times, to be able to sleep at night, I have to write them down, and put them where they can be found.

Mark.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/07/25

It was time for me to change. To grow. To do something else. I knew that. I’d known that for years. And fought it for years. Told myself 90 billion lies, too. “If you stop, if you go somewhere else, do something else, what happens to the people around you?” That was the obvious one. There were others. “What happens if you don’t make as much money?” With bills to pay, that one would hurt. “What happens if you fail?” That was always the fear.

But, I’d played my piano for 30 years. More, actually, if you count the time I spent learning to play. Started in 5th grade. Took lessons clean through high school. Took more lessons, and more classes at the university. I didn’t count those years in that 30.

And it was always the same thing. The same story. I wrote something, played it, everyone listened, spoke of how talented I was, told me how great I could have been, asked me why I stayed where I was. On, and on it went.

All the images were there. One big image. Of me, being a gifted, talented pianist, and composer. Able to compose tunes off the top of my head that were better than anyone expected. Able to play for hours on end.

It was exactly how it was supposed to be. I was who I was supposed to be, and how I was supposed to be. Everyone else knew who I was, and what I was, and what mattered to me. Life was running according to the perfect little plan.

Another soul would have stayed put. Too afraid to move. Too afraid to change. “I’m too old. What if I fail? What if I go broke, and have to sell everything? What if I get sick, and can’t afford the medicine I need?” Another soul would have sucked it up. And toughed it out. And been a grown up, responsible, and mature, and tried harder.

What do you do when you realize everything you are is a lie? When everything you do, everything you say, the way you behave, isn’t you, but is some character played by an actor on the stage, before an audience.

She’d asked me to write a song for her, just for her, no one else. “Make it something about the color yellow.” I’d sat down at my piano intent on doing so. Except. My fingers wouldn’t work. I don’t know why. Every time I raised my hands to the keyboard, to play the notes, my hands shook, and my fingers failed to move where they were supposed to. It felt like touching my fingertips to hot burners on a stove. Fire. Burning.

I stared at my keyboard for hours. I’d closed my eyes, and tried to picture the score in my head. I’d done that countless times. But all I saw were blank staffs. No notes. And the paper was always burning. Always.

I failed to write a note. Not a single note. The score was empty. Blank. The next day, I tried again. And failed again. And again on the third day. And the fourth.

The fifth day my eyes saw the truth. It was a moment I can’t forget. I try. I’ve tried since that day. But always, I remember everything, every detail. The keys on my keyboard, worn from decades of use, some chipped, some with the white top missing. The F sharp that never worked, no matter how hard my fingers pressed it. All it ever said was a soft, felt muffled “tock”. The stains on the top, by the music rack, left by thousands of cans of soda, spilled, or so cold they formed puddles of water from condensation. So many details. So many years. So much time.

I looked around that day. Studied the entire room. I knew it was a room, that’s where the piano was. Where it still is today. When I looked that day, there were no walls, no floor, no carpet, no bookcases along the wall, no lamp next to the piano to provide light for me to see with. Only a barren, parched field of sparse clumps of weeds, and bare dirt.

But off to one side, I could see mountains, near the horizon. They were miles away, I knew that. I knew too, they were green. Full of life. Full of flowers, birds, trees, squirrels, maybe even streams, and creeks, with fish in them.

It was a place I wanted to be. A place I knew I was meant to be.

I’d known for years I was supposed to move on. Known it was long past time for me to change. That I’d been locked in time, stagnant, unchanging, not growing. If anything, decaying. Leaving nothing but that image of who I was, and what I was.

That was the day I turned off the light next to my piano, stood up, stared at my keyboard one last time, and left the room. That was ten years ago. I have never been in that room since that day. That day when I realized how empty, how barren, my life, my world, had become. That day when I started this journey I’m on now. To reach those mountains I see, over there, miles away, near the horizon.

I’m looking for something. I know that. If I ever find that something, I’ll let you know. But, for now, and for all the days since I closed the door to that room. I have never felt happier.

922 words
@mysoulstears


This is written for Week 65 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Miranda says I should write it out, what I feel. We’ll see. In the meantime, you can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.