Friday, September 14, 2007

The Voice

   There is little enjoyment in being told what to do. This is where many an offspring takes a detour from that abiding path it walked with its parents. This is where many a loyal employee seeks shelter in extra coffee breaks and "sick days". This is where many a spouse begins building "the wall".  Face it, young or old, it just doesn't sit well with us when we are told that we must do something.

  It was many years ago, my first week in the Army I observed that the best way to de-humanize someone, was to tell them what they had to do, every minute of every day! It was there, I was told what to wear, when and what I could eat, when I would wake up and when I would sleep. I was told how to stand ("ATTENTION"), I was told when to relax ("AT EASE,SOLDIER"). I was told which way to face ("right face") and worse, 90% of the steps I took, I was told which foot to place on the ground ("left, right ,left"!).In just a week, I asked myself, "who am I?"

It was during those days that a voice from within emerged loud and clear. This was my inner voice. It brought me the songs that warmed my soul, it comforted me when I was wounded, it encouraged me when I needed a double dose of bravery. This voice carried all the words of my sweetheart that I left behind, it kept a count on the days that remained till my tour was up. It entertained me like Bob Hope would entertain the troops, and thus, I was still able to smile and share a laugh with others. As I boarded the bus to return home, my inner voice yelled "Yahoo, you made it, you see, you did it, just like I said you would!"

Since that day, I never argued with my inner voice.

  Two weeks ago, I received a phone call from my son who was in tears. A relationship that he thought would be "everlasting" came to a screeching halt and smashed into too many bits and pieces to put together again. "I know you are calling me with the hope that I am going to give you some special message that will make this pain go away" I said. "Yes,I can really use something to grasp onto" he said with the sound of despair in his voice.       I drew a deep breath and said "I am not the person you should be speaking to. You need to speak  with the most intelligent person that I know, a person that I trust will steer you in the right direction".   My son paused, "who is that?" he asked . "That extremeley intelligent person is your inner voice!  Sit down and listen to that voice that has taken you further than I ever imagined you going. Have a chat with that voice that knows you better than anyone on this planet!" 

I explained the answers won't pop up like a magic wand has been waved, but clarity will come with time , and healing with introspection.

We spoke yesterday, he sounds just fine and is moving on with his life, fortifying his resolve and saving his energy for the next possibility.

I just love how that inner voice works!

So, the next time you feel that need to hear someone really intelligent, someone who really knows you....just let that inner voice begin to speak! You'll love what you'll hear!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Weight

                                     The Weight

   "Uh-Oh" were the first words I uttered today. It was my commentary after reading the numbers on the scale. "Time to start another serious diet" I contemplated. This lament is not new. It seems most of my life has been a series of starting a new diet just as the old one ended!

   My first battle began at age 11. My mother had taken me to a clothing store for a suit. The salesman ( once known as a Habidasher), measured my waist, my inseam, my shoulders, and then slipped the tape measure around my chest. He  gently placed his hand on my shoulder, smiled cordially at my my mom and said " you have a fine young growing boy here, we shall need to look in the "Husky" section. "What's a Husky? I innocently asked. my mother quipped, "it means you are growing the wrong way! Instead of growing taller you are growing sideways!". I glanced over to her, she had this look, like I had double crossed her. I felt awful. I never liked that look. It was a guilty verdict that diminished my feeling of  self-esteem.

  In those days there wasn't any no Jenny Craig, NutriSystem or Weight Watcher Programs. There were no Lean Cuisines, Healthy Choice Meals and the word "Low fat" was not a concept on packaging labels. There wasn't Diet Coke!

  The following week I found myself in the backseat of the car being driven to a clinic to be consulted with a "dietitian".  Learning experiences...I was always open to what they had to offer.

  We arrived at the assigned room. The dietitian sat at her desk and took down all types of information about me. She began explaining about calories, food choices and the importance of keeping a diary of what I ate. She handed me pages of the food groups that I could  pick from and a suggested menu for the next seven days. "Next week, you'll come back, report to the room marked on the paper and we will monitor your progress".  My world was slightly inconvienced, but anything not have my mother give me that double crossed looked again!

  The next week we arrived at the room. I opened the door to find a room filled with people sitting in chairs. The dietitian was sitting at a desk in front of the room, next to her, an assistant. "Sign your name on the sheet, have a seat and wait till I call your name" she commanded with a voice of authority.   I signed my name at the bottom of a long list and then took a seat with my parents in the back.

  The silence was broken by the loud announcement of a name by the assistant. I observed a person get up from their chair, walk to the front of the room , stepped  on a Drs. scale."One Hundred and Sevnty Four pounds, You lost two pounds" came the unpleasantly loud voice of the assistant. My heart jumped, "oh my, how embarrassing!" I began to sweat as my pulse heightened. I carefully paid attention as each name was called, trying to imagine how I was going to summon enough courage to do this. The assisant called out "PEARL KING"...I turned to my mom, her name was Pearl, not a common name, I chuckled and she smiled at me, "not me" she said. Two rows ahead of us, the chairs squealed as they were slid across the floor. A woman slowly rose. I could not believe my eyes...she had the biggest backside I had ever seen! She had a large dress on, there was no telling where her tush began or ended. As she approached the scale I began to immediately feel sorry for what she was about to experince. She stepped on the scale, the assistant quickly slid the weights to the end of the beam, making a loud "clack" sound as they hit the end. The assisant took a quick look and loudly announced "NO WEIGHT FOR PEARL KING".  Pearl stepped off the scale and sat down next to the dietitian and handed over her diary. Confused I asked my Mom for an explanation. "The scale doesn't go high enough" my mom explained.  "Without a weight, how does she know if she is gaining or losing ?" I asked. "She won't know, and she will have to try  till her weight comes down to the where the scale measures it".  this transcended my abilty to comprehend, imagine walking around and not knowing what you weigh! How awful!

  The weeks passed, and I made progress. Each subsequent week I returned with more self confidence and a better understanding of what I could and should not eat. But, poor Pearl King, each week was the same "NO WEIGHT", despite the fact that it appeared she was making some progress.

 By the third month I had made enough progress where my Mother said, "I think this will be your last weigh in, I can take over from here". So on that last trip to the clinic, we waited for my nameto be called. "PEARL KING" the assistant called out. Pearl walked up the scale and the assistant once again slammed the weights to the very end, gave a quick glance, then...paused, jiggled the weights, stared and then said aloud " TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY EIGHT POUNDS.....WE HAVE A WEIGHT FOR PEARL KING".  My mom and I let out a small "yeah". I was so happy for Pearl, she finally knew her weight!  I think I was more relieved about her, than my own progress!

On the ride home my mother told me how proud she was of me, how good I looked and that I needed to continue with my efforts. I could only think of how happy I was for Pearl King.

.....................Now, many many years later, I understand why.   We are all here in this world for a limited time. The years go streaming by and it seems like we are just "passing through". We can step on a scale and see what we weigh "physically", but there is no scale that weighs our "usefullness, and  fullfillment". That measurement has us all guessing ! Not having such a scale has us pause and ask, "am I doing what I was supposed to do? is the the way I was supposed to spend my life here?"

 One can say, that an act of kindness, a blessing rendered onto another is like consuming spiritual calories.If that is the case, then I pray that when our time comes, we all will tip the scales!

The "other" diet begins tomorrow!

Marc :)