Love Another Man To See The Face Of God

Hello friends. Missed you yesterday. We are on our way home from the anniversary weekend plus a few other significant dates wrapped in there.

The Marriott hotel we stayed at was sold out so getting two adjoining rooms (who wants to get arrested for child abandonment on their anniversary?) took extra maneuvering by Marriott’s good staff along with my husband’s gentle ways. We landed in an upgraded suite the size of a small country for the same previous price. I’ve never been in something like that and we all felt like superstars.
(This is sounding newsy.)

Anywho, the next day we joined my brother and his family at a matinée showing of Les Miserables at the Ahmanson Theater – we’ve planned this for a year. There we were; a few adults and a long string of children all polished and shiny. We had bought feathered masquerade masks to play it up and were dressed to the nines. The house was sold out.

We had prepared ourselves with the soundtrack, Victor Hugo‘s unabridged printed English translation (didn’t finish that yet this time around – hoping still), the 25th Anniversary recording at the The O2 and lots of chat. The kids were happy to go with their cousins and you can imagine that all should have gone well.
What to say.  Some things we must prepare for in other ways.

Sitting there, my son on my lap and just the slightest sound of tearing chocolate bar wrapper, and the head in front of us turned into a face with a mouth,

Be quiet!  

Some minutes later, my son was drinking from his water bottle,

For G–‘s sake!  Put that away!

There was more from our theater-head and after three otherwise beautiful hours, Les Miserables was over.  A lady a few chairs away from the theater-head whom I think was in his party said,

Next time choose to take them to a Disney Production, would you?  

Later in the car, my girls were wondering about the, “super mean people in front of us,” and I remembered the words still fresh in my thoughts,

To love another man is to see the face of God.

How to love?  By starting with loving me.  Who knows about those people?  I don’t.  I don’t know anything about them at all.  I can just work my junk over and grow my own bank.  Then I can love even people who are mean to my beautiful kids.  I can think about their possible frontal lobe dementia, disinhibition and medication non-compliance and empathize.  I can think about their torn families and children who’ve abandoned them and come home only on Christmas.  I can think about their missed opportunities to claim their freedom to self-care.  By starting with me, I can enter into their hurt and see that through their eyes, they see an angry unsafe world and they are suffering.  That is something of what Victor Hugo may have talked about.

When I was younger, a one o’clock Sunday matinée was when kids came but maybe not any more.  Ah well.  I saw the face of God.

Self-Care Tip – Love another man to see the face of God.

Love is There. The Friendliest Knowing We Can Have.

Know that Love is there.

Daisy Duck from The Walt Disney Company

Image via Wikipedia

The most friendly thing we can do for ourselves is to have a knowing-sense that Love is there. It sounds rather Disney, and maybe that’s one of the reasons Disney works its formula so well. It’s a formula that is based on Truth.

I like to think of Truth as something that doesn’t change with our changing perceptions, our changing definitions of what is real or have anything to do with our choices. Truth is as solid as anything can be in any dimension, time or space. Love is from that category of unchanging things.

Love is.

I’m not someone who ever relished lectures on defining the different types of love; agape, phileo, eros, Micky-Mouse or Minnie. My simple ears hear buzzing sounds when people start talking like that and all I can think of is how to peel a banana or when can I eat that good bread in the bowl in front of me. I wear my primitive self on my shirt today not to say that we shouldn’t be otherwise, that Greek is trivial and forget the Dead Sea Scrolls. Nooooo way. That sophistication is wonderful too and I lean heavily on it. I just don’t do the research myself. I believe the research I feel is right. There. I’m a scientist and I just said I tend to believe my feelings. It’s out. Leave now if you want to but that is who I am. I still claim to be a scientist and you can’t make me stop.

I see Love the way I do. Bigger than that and that and that. A gestalt at times and at other times, bits. Like finding a piece of broken mirror; I know I don’t see the whole reflection of Love, but it is. Love is there. It doesn’t depend on our behaviors or proofs. It doesn’t depend on anything. Love is.

A patient, Mindy, was telling me about her husband. She said that when he was sick, she was constantly trying to figure out if he loved her. But as he’d been healing she’d been healing too. Now when she looked at him, she found the channel switching more often from, “Does he love me?” to, “There is Love.” I celebrate this with her.

Mindy could have taken this further to say, “Love was there even when he wasn’t healthy and even when I am not. Love is.” Maybe she still will. How about you?

Intent and Context Matter

 

A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar

Image via Wikipedia

 

Self-care is selfless, but doing things for yourself is not always self-care.

A reader commented, “I believe that if I’m NOT taking care of myself and feeling joy, then that IS self-centered….”  Too eloquent.  Love it.

Some of our confusion comes from the changing scenarios of self care.  The intent sometimes gets blurry.  The intent is hard to tease apart.  Sometimes what feels like taking care of ourselves is in fact, selfish.  For example, let’s say “hypothetically,” my husband, who is a palliative care specialist, chooses to work on twitter #hpm, play chess, or play guitar.  This is potentially positive and friendly to the self.  However, it depends on intent.  Sometimes we don’t know our own intent though.

There is also the context of what is happening.  Let’s say we were all fighting, and then my husband goes off to read Oscar Wilde.   Is this self-care or a way of abandoning and taking himself out of the present?  Self-care puts us into the present.  Whereas selfishness takes us out.

In another context, taking yourself out of the present is necessary to ultimately put yourself back in.  Doing this requires thought processes that can abstract and empathize (connect emotional content).

I rely a lot on intent! (Ahem!)

There is a mind disease called schizophrenia.  This disease is famous for hallucinations, hearing voices that other people don’t hear, seeing things that other people don’t see.  However the core symptom of schizophrenia is less famous.  It is the thought form, concrete and disconnected.

Concrete thinking is named well, unlike many other medical conditions.  (Think diabetes!  Who would know what that has anything to do with!?)  But concrete thinking is plain, hard, and flat like my sidewalk.  For example, if I asked what does the parable mean, “A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush?”

  1. Concrete thinkers might say, “Birds make a mess so we don’t want a lot of them.”
  2. Further, if their thoughts are also not connected, they might say, “Birds migrate in the winter and the bush is wet.”
  3. Contrast this to connected thought that abstracts, being able to answer, “If I have an opportunity to take something good, it’s better to take it than gamble for what I might not be able to keep in the end.”

Different emotional illnesses have trouble abstracting, but fewer have disconnected thoughts like schizophrenia.

If you are in a relationship with someone who has trouble abstracting (traumatic brain injury) and/or connecting emotional content (ADHD for example,) you might misinterpret his or her behaviors as selfish.  Being able to empathize after all is part of most Disney fairy-tail romances.  What more do any of us want?  Right?

Wrong.  The capacity to empathize doesn’t matter much if the intent is missing.

Wrong.  The ability to abstract doesn’t connect if the intent to connect us is not there.  The knowledge does not matter.  It is the context.

In the film, A Beautiful Mind, Russel Crowe plays a character that suffers from schizophrenia.  The woman who loves him, struggles to understand the way he loves her back.  His disease steals his attention.  His disease takes his time.  He seems selfish.  Their love survives when she discovers his intent in context.  He stays present in the relationship, despite all his limited capacity to relate.  Further, agreeing to the treatments of his generation, limited that they are, he is doing selfless self-care.

At the end of the day, I’m a grateful piece of dirt who means well.  Saying that up front immediately lets you get very familiar with me.  (I could have said “grateful piece of sh–,” but that would have been selfish.  The s-bomb is just playing with the word to have fun!)  Part of why I believe in God is because I know He goes for the losers.  He goes for the piece of craps out there.  That’s what the beatitudes are about.  He pours it on. (Intent and context, baby!)  At the end of the day, we are neither angel nor beast.  We are just human to Him.

Self-Care Tip #78 – Keep self-care selfless.  Be a friend to yourself. 😉

Question:  What do you think?  Please tell me your thoughts.  Please tell me your story.