Dita Parker

Monday, December 22, 2014

When all is said and done

Warning: verbal incontinence ahead.

Year-end review time! So how did you do, compared to how you expected to January 1, 2014? I started out all eleison, all merciful, not too hard on myself. And ended up, well...as the Mythbusters will tell you, failure is always an option. It wasn't a catastrophic failure, this year merely confirmed an observation: I'm an on-off person. When there's work to do, I'm all over it. When it's time to kick back, shoes and gadgets go flying into the depths and won't resurface until it's time to go back to work.

So. Maybe I should apologize for the radio silence here at the den but I won't. True to form, I've been working hard so I can enjoy some rest and relaxation over the holidays. Be with family, visit friends and take care of the new addition to the family, Chloe the cat. I know horses and hounds but I've never owned a cat. [I know. No one ever owns a cat, not really...] I've envied friends with cats and I've wanted one for the longest time, and now we have one, and not just because I wanted one but because the whole family did. She's a European shorthair and the sweetest, fiercest thing.

All in all, my life hasn't been very tale worthy. Work. Exercise. Family & friends time. Chores. Not always in that order but always some combination of the above. There's been some backstage drama worth a post or ten but that's personal and a business matter and nothing I can go into right here right now. It has certainly given me pause and another glimpse at the unsavory underbelly of a trade I've worked in for a long time in many capacities. So hardly a surprise, just another observation confirmed. People are the best, kind, loving and compassionate. People are the worst, cruel, selfish and unjust.

What else? I've been thinking about memory and identity and our lives, the only shot we have at doing everything we'll ever do, and I've been thinking about time, how it's become a luxury item [although I do believe that's an illusion, a creation after our own selves; there's still time, we're the wasteful ones and always in a hurry]. There are no winemakers in the family, only people who enjoy wine. Should you decide to become a vintner, from scratch, buy land and vines, it would take you a minimum of twelve years to see a grape worth squashing. The prerequisite of a quality wine is a quality vine, and those can take up to forty years to yield their best produce. Forty years. Still wonder why some wines cost a fortune? Someone somewhere waited half a lifetime for a vine to reach its full potential. Sometimes they wait by the vine in vain. Sometimes it comes to nothing. You can make bad wine from good grapes but not vice versa.

Take your time. Wait it out. See what happens. No time like the present. Carpe diem. Strike while the iron is hot. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we make decisions based on cool careful calculation, on knowledge, the intellect, dollars, pounds and euros, the bottom line. Maybe lie is too strong a word, the wrong word. Maybe it's not a lie but a blindness to how much private emotions and past experiences factor. We like to think of ourselves as sensible beings who can keep our sensibilities in check when the limbic brain, the reptile brain gives the first and fastest response in any situation and most of us never learn to override it. Most of us aren't even conscious of it's workings but everyone knows the physical reactions, the swell of emotion that so easily takes hold of you when something unexpected happens, good or bad. If you have time, you reason. If not, you react.

Some are all emotion and reaction all of the time. No one is reasonable and sensible in everything they do. Feelings factor and that's a fact, one dictators have shamelessly milked since the first undecided human decided s/he needed a determined leader. How else would despots garner attention and gain followers? Why on earth would anyone raise a hand or their voice against another unless they're driven by a logic, a rhetoric, that stands and falls on the feelings they generate, the reactions that follow, the emotional satisfaction they can bring?

"I'm going to slaughter 6 million people. Who's with me?" "I will give you a strong, proud nation, the greatest this world has ever seen, a glorious kingdom that will last a thousand years. Who's with me?" The power of words. The power of emotion. Words can be used to generate empathy and respect. Words can be used to create conflict, to divide and oppress. The very same words in some cases. Take the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, their words too often misused for personal gain, selfish purposes, evil. Just listen. Look around you. Here I babble but the world, oh dearest denizens, sometimes the world just renders me speechless.

Like dearest Europe, for example. Where are you going, old girl? Anti-immigration, anti-Islamic sentiments, anti this and anti that. Hatred disguised as nationalism. Nationalism disguised as patriotism. Egotism disguised as reason. This is your answer, your solution? What's the question again? You make them up as you go to justify your actions or should I say reactions because the only brain I can see at work and in charge is the reptile one. You feel threatened, you attack. Is there a reason to feel threatened? That's what I'd like to know but man is it hard to have a conversation with someone deeply immersed in a monologue. Take Erdogan whose new palace is bigger than the Louvre. The Louvre! And don't get me started on Orbán. One of my oldest friends is half Hungarian, and she's just... Well, not living in Hungary for one and probably never will be if this is their trajectory. And Putin... Putin explains Russia and Russia explains Putin. Don't be fooled, though. Russia and the Russian people are two very different things.

And I'm at it again, aren't I, soapbox out and foaming at the mouth... Great, just great. Let's talk about something else, shall we. The holidays? Yea! Whether you celebrate at Christmastime or not many around you do. I know it's a hard time of year to be alone. If you are, I still hope you enjoy the peace and quiet the holidays bring, even for a few days. I hope you do all the things that make you happy, things you enjoy, and if that's too much self-absorption to your liking, I hope you take up people on their invitations for you to come over for dinner, drinks, coffee... Maybe they're not asking because it's the Christian, Christmasy thing to do but because they really want you there. Life will resume normal programing in a few, you'll be swept away and full of excuses why you can't thanks for asking maybe some other time. Go.

We most certainly celebrate Christmas at Casa Dita. There's not much religious faith at the heart of our celebration because of the different individuals and denominations coming together, but there's love and compassion, there's empathy and respect, the moral compasses of die hard worshipers, agnostics and atheists alike. A religion, a life!, not rooted in love, compassion, empathy and respect...what purpose does it serve?

From soapbox to pulpit. Religion and politics? I just broke some social media rules, I believe, like all two of them. It's just that... Gah. 'Tis the season? Up next: New year, new gear! Are you thinking of a theme for 2015? Share if you dare. I've been on Facebook and Twitter, can you believe it, on-off as per this year's/this life's theme, but still. So find me if you want to keep in touch on a more daily/weekly basis.

I haven't had time or energy for writing fiction lately and that's a shame because I write in my head all the time. I intend to be a good girl over the holidays and get some words down on paper. Yes, paper. Still enjoy that, immensely, both writing on some and reading print. The computer and keyboard need a rest and I need some rest from them.

The dark days have been a drag but we got some snow yesterday and there's more coming in today. No more dreaming of a white Christmas, it's here and so is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Which means longer days from now on, slowly but surely! Another cause for celebration, what our "pagan" ancestors celebrated before baby Jesus and St. Nick started facing off. Can't shout too loudly, though, this is the land of Santa after all. Since we live in the vicinity, he visits Scandinavian kids on Christmas eve.

You bet the wee ones are excited and so am I. I need a break and some downtime with family and friends. I hope you get some rest too or if it's an adventure you crave, I hope you find one. I hope you find what you're looking for. I hope you keep the faith, whatever lies at the heart of your belief/s, and I hope whatever it is, it's rooted in love, compassion and respect. It would be sooo easy to give in to despair and cynicism, the world bombasts us with reasons every day. But we're not quitters, are we, sweetie darlings? It's our world too and love is our resistance.

Merry Christmas, sweetie darlings, and a most excellent new year.

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