Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Greater Story

012The story you are about to read has changed.

I’m waiting in line at Walmart. I’m only here because Walmart sells a certain phone card I can’t find anywhere else in town. I’m seething. I can’t wait to get home and write about what I’m going through. That it took the cashier ten minutes to scan the phone card for a price – and failed! That I had to return to the back of the store to get another card. That when I returned to pay, the line was three deep in full Walmart shopping carts. That the place is so depressing. That everything here is plastic. That every product I see crammed in carts is either made of plastic or is packaged in plastic. That even though Walmart sells produce, no one wants fresh when they can buy it encased in styrofoam and shrinkwrap. That because so many here are overweight or obese, they waddle instead of walk. That I’m paying for these people’s medical costs through higher health care premiums that everyone has to share because people don’t take care of themselves, get overweight and fall apart by fifty-five. That, that, that ….

I’m hating the world. Stop. Am I taking care of myself? Turn the page.

Prone to high blood sugar count due to the late onset Type 1 diabetes I acquired five years ago, I feel weak and shaky. I sense I gave myself too much insulin earlier. Diabetes is no fun. During hours of low blood sugar count, my body works hard to keep up the fight, but often loses. The brain goes, too, and that’s the way I feel right now – edgy, irritable, negative – not to mention hungry. So hungry, I’m dying for one of those Hungry Man dinners the lady in front of me has. She’ll never know I took one. After all, she’s buying a 24-pack to receive her case discount price.

Finally at the cashier stand, I hand the same cashier my new phone card. I’m going to explode if he still can’t figure it out. I’m going to write something explosive like, “I hate Walmart! ‘Walmart. Always.’ What a crappy slogan. More like ‘Always the Wrong Place to Shop’.”

Wait. It’s the diabetes talking. Stop!

“Morons! Peons. Followers. Fools. Cretins!”

The cashier takes the card and slides it through his register’s scanner. With the flick of his wrist, his eyes brighten. “Ah – there we go. It’s fine. No problem. This card is fine. That’ll be $43.20.”

With the swift swipe of that card, my anger has lifted. A calm comes over me. No more battles. No more hostility.

“Sorry for the inconvenience, sir,” the cashier says.

Humbled, tail between legs, I breath in and out slowly, then catch myself saying, “It’s okay, sir, it wasn’t your fault the first card didn’t scan,” whereupon I peaceably leave the store.

I know I’ve just lived a greater life story of humility than I could ever have written a scathing piece about Walmart, human frailty and hate.



Filed under Blog, The Daily Thought

A Question I Can’t Answer

iStock_000006512726LargeDining with my brother in a Taos, New Mexico, restaurant the other night, I reflected on various childhood experiences I shared with him. Close to the end of dinner, a man sitting next to us turned around. Through a great big grin, the seventy-year-old apologized for interrupting, but mentioned he couldn’t help overhear our conclusions made about the baby boom generation. He, too, had much to say about this generation.

His observations of boomers, their children, and the current generation of young people made me think. I’m wondering if other readers agree with what he said.

“You see, I’m able to see now how we’ve let our kids down. Kids of baby boomers? They have no idea what we sacrificed in order to give them the luxuries they have today. Period. And as their parents, it’s our fault for having done this. For some reason, we discontinued the traditions passed down to us and, as a result, our kids not only have no idea what we did for them, but what our forefather’s did. Baby boomer’s kids have no sense of past generation’s sacrifice, and that’s sad.”

This well-spoken gentleman, a native Montreal citizen, spoke highly of America.

“I’m proud to border the US. Too many people today have totally forgotten what America has done for the world. My wife and I visited Normandy once. Let me tell you, you should go. The graveyards there, with so many American soldiers who died (along with French, British and others). It’s incredible.”

Through the enthusiastic, wide smile that nearly reached the wild, curly hair about his ears, there was a sense of  loss expressed in his voice. Then he turned it around.

“But what I see today with the newest generation of young people is re-engagement. I see much less taking for granted what they have, and it’s great to see that.”

So how is it, as the man suggested, baby boom parents – with all the advantages and standard of living improvements made during their time on Earth – raised kids without sufficient connection to tradition and knowledge of the sacrifice their forefathers made to build the prosperous America of today?

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My Roles, Myself and “American Beauty”

Ever since seeing characters for the first time on various TV and film screens, I’ve been captivated by people who are not like me.

The list of screen characters I’ve emulated – even deliberately tried to act like – has grown over the years. Typically, I try on the role of a character for an hour, maybe a day, and experiment with their personality at the grocery check out line, privately at work, or while alone driving the car. Some might call me … crazy. At least … not normal?

I just returned from an exhausting trip to San Francisco a few days ago. Compared to Santa Fe where I live, San Francisco is another planet. I lost my energy, my health, my balance, and worse yet, my confidence, all from a high-speed, technology-driven, deadline-oriented world that left me weary and wobbly.

Chilling at home yesterday, I surfed channels and stumbled upon “American Beauty,” one of my favorite films, but one I hadn’t seen in fifteen years.

Re-enter Ricky Fitz.

I watched eighteen-year-old Ricky Fitz and his world surrounded by deceptive, hypocritical, and success-at-any-cost people. Saved somehow, this “not normal” young man was different from his shallow friends and domineering father. He remained cool, confident, unfettered, truthful, blunt, and oblivious to what anyone might think about him.

After the movie, I took to my yard to write, then do some yard work. It wasn’t until evening I realized what I’d been doing that afternoon outside. I slowed down, dropped my superfluous social animations to neighbors walking by. In turn, I gave them long periods of eye contact, said nothing, just smiled, as if to say nothing because I was comfortable just listening to them speak, comfortable remaining in the moment, and, in a nutshell, feeling confident – even if only for  this brief moment in real-time.

It’s not that I’ll stay Rickie Fitz. But somewhere in me lurks the person I became disconnected from during my trip. It’s not that I wanted to connect with Ricky Fitz as much re-connect with me. It was only natural Rickie Fitz rekindled that – it’s not an unnatural or scary thing to do at all. Same with the thousand and one other screen characters I’ve slipped into.

I suppose what is scary is how few real, breathing, in-the-flesh male role models there were in my life growing up. But that’s another movie for another time.


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