AS I SEE IT…. “How are you today?”

05145435a34a5525550918c45897041e608a9f-wm“If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people” –  Timothy Leary

Why is it when you’re asked “how are you today ?”  you  just say ‘fine thanks’.  Truth is, you yearn inside wanting to say forbidding things like.. “I feel like crap” or “I just want to curl up and die” more often than not… it’s simply “bugger off!!”  This started me thinking…. How am I really today?  Sad,  happy,  hurt,  angry.. or simply going through the daily motions. Sadly for most of us, it’s the latter. Even sadder is that when we are asked how we are, we just say ‘good thanks’  Most of us brush it off with a bit of grumpy rhetoric!  Truth is, most of us are far from good.. So, it started me thinking.. What would happen if we changed the way we responded to people? I decided to give it a go!  To be honest, it was hard going! I’m pretty much a ‘keep it to my self type of guy.. If I’m not feeling on top of things and someone bounces up to me and asks “How’s it going?” I’ll smile and say “great” There might be a hundred and one reasons why I respond in this way. The simple plain fact is, I just can’t be bothered engaging with this bright eyed bubbly over the top individual,  who for all I know may just have won the lottery!

So,  after some careful self analysis and evaluation, (I’ve already been told I’m a grumpy old fart!) I decided to change the way I reacted to people that asked  “how are you today?” Before I even ventured out, I get a phone call from a telemarketer.. “Hi it’s Mark here how are you this morning?” My golden opportunity to put my new found positiveness into action.. “Oh hi Mark, thanks for calling and asking how I am… Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not feeling all that great this morning, was awake all night worrying about my Guinea Pigs!”  Silence…  then a compassionate  ‘are they OK?’ “No not really” I reply,  “Studmuffin and Snickerdoodle got out during the night and I think they were bullied by Jack Hammer and Goliath” he gasped “ooooh!!” (this guys good, right in there with me!!) Then I opened the flood-gates and poured out a few soft sob’s.. “I’m very upset, I hope the poor wee darlings are going to be all right” (sob). At this point, Mark was displaying all the right emotions with his responses.. He had pretty much forgotten the reason for his call and was assuaging me about the imaginary Guinea Pigs and their plight.. “Look” he said, “I don’t know too much about Guinea Pigs, but I’m sure it’s just a territorial thing and you sound like a lovely gentleman that cares very much about your animals, so I’m sure everything will be fine” “Thank you so much” I said, trying to sound sincere.. He chimed in with “I’m glad I was here to listen.. Look, go and make a cuppa and just relax! Is there someone you can call?” “Yes,” I said. “Good, now make sure you have a nice cuppa then call your friend” he said with sincerity. “I’ll let you go, but please don’t worry…it’s going to be fine!!”

After Mark hung up, I stopped and processed what had just happened… By simply changing the way I responded, Mark forgot about his job and became a caring benevolent person, concerned about my Guinea Pigs and more so, my well being. My response could have been very different… and curt! Time to venture into the city. Next person was the train guard.  “How are ya mate, where ya going?’ “To the city buddy, and how are you this beautiful morning?” That clinched it!! Off he went, he didn’t want to be here, despite his 100k plus salary… He wanted to be with his daughter…. she was having treatment for breast cancer.. He was sad that he couldn’t be with her, but he knew that by being at work, he was contributing to the cost of her treatment… She was just 32.. I immediately offered him my best wishes for a successful outcome.. He thanked me and went about is duties with just a hint of a smile.. I felt good! All of a sudden it was dawning on me… I had to be the one to make the changes… I had to shift my focus from a negative one to a positive one and I was learning by taking a chance on a stranger.. All of a sudden, I began to feel good….really good! It made me smile inside and I began to get it..

You see, everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into our lives just by mere coincidence…. So, trust your instincts… Do the unexpected.. Find the others!! When someone asks you “How are you today?’   Remember…..“If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people”

AS I SEE IT…Being Catholic. Part 4

–  “Growth is painful.  Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck  somewhere you don’t belong!!” – imagesAnon 

Having served my apprenticeship, so to speak, growing up Catholic, during the 50’s surviving the convent, the priests and the nuns, then a strict Catholic  boarding school, I felt pretty comfortable that I had come through this ordeal mostly intact. Oh there were scars and wounds that needed to heal, but as they say… “Time is a great healer”… or is it?

So, the spiritual coaching continued and I longed for Saturday to come around.. I learned so much  from my mentor and so called “Spiritual Adviser”. Kind, gentle, caring , compassionate and  of course very Gay! A priest that was ahead of his time. He, was after all, the Bishops’ Secretary and ran his affairs and those of the Diocese. Not for one moment did I feel threatened or intimidated by this incredibly intelligent and learned scholar. When it came to church doctrine, or Canon Law, there were not many that could complete in his arena. As the weeks became months, I learned many things about the indoctrination of seminarians. I was caught up in this doctrina and once again heaped with the guilt. I had many open and frank discussions with my  Adviser and I came to the conclusion the the power that the Vatican wielded was more than immense. He told me that The Vatican has large investments with the Rothschild’s of Britain, France and America, with the Hambros Bank, with the Credit Suisse in London and Zurich. In the United States it has large investments with the Morgan Bank, the Chase-Manhattan Bank, the First National Bank of New York, the Bankers Trust Company, and others. He also told me of the billions of shares it has in some of the most powerful international corporations in the world, including Gulf Oil, Shell, General Motors, Bethlehem Steel, General Electric, International Business Machines to name a few! He also said that The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. He said that it is a greater possessor of material riches than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe. I was not entirely surprised at this forthright statement. He had seen much in his time as the Secretary to the Bishop. He warned me to think long and hard about this so called “Vocation”..  Was I doing this for the right reason, or was it grown out of guilt and a sense of duty and obligation to my local priest, but above all… to my mother?

I was wracked with guilt as I didn’t want to be in this institution any longer. I fell into, what I believe now to have been guilt inflicted depression.. I began to rebel against the daily teachings and begun questioning. Once again I was summoned to the Rectors’ office. Again, I refused to sit in his chair and this time rebutted pretty much everything he said..  I was angry as I firmly believed I had been tricked into this vocation by the church, it’s priest and my mother.. So, I did the unthinkable! I told this narcissistic rector to stick his seminary where the sun will never shine! Turned out, I was not the only one who left… or as the church will have it, was “Cast Out”…there were 5 others.  I turned to the only person I knew at that point who would show some empathy.. Fr Kevin! He comforted me  by simply saying what I had known all along… It was a decision surrounded by guilt that had led me here. Over the next few days, I met more of his colleagues, priests that had a very different view of the church at that time and were concerned with the increase of abuse that was taking place. It was a common topic at the time, that may be priests should be allowed to marry. A number of these men I met, had female companions, sure, there were a couple in relationships and from what I saw and those I became friends with, I believed that it had had a huge influence on their ministry.

I left the security of my friends and joined a commune. I lived with a great bunch of men and women and it was during this time that I worked on myself  alleviating this guilt! I took a job in the local wool store, regained my fitness both mentally & physically and became involved in theatre. I took a flat in the city and my life changed for the better..  I moved to another city, fell in love and married.. Still, being catholic and still with that underlying guilt.. I went to Mass, met up with one of the priests I had got to know. He became a good friend and on Sunday, shocked my fiance when we were both  going to receive Communion, he said “The Body of Christ Brian” I replied “Thanks Brian” This blew her away..  So, life was good…then the unthinkable happened.. I was working on the railway, shunting trains and I had a horrific accident, loosing both legs above the knees.. I recovered, still got married (in the hospital Day Room) and went on to have two fine sons.. I feel that I have been dealt a pretty good hand… Sure, in hindsight, I would do a lot of things differently, wouldn’t we all? After the accident I was told on more than one occasion that this was God punishing me for not becoming a priest!!

It took me back to that time all those years ago when that guilt was instilled in to me by those Nuns, Priests  and my mother. I was just  a small boy growing up, simply “Being Catholic” Thankfully time’s a great healer… I’ve moved on. I’m reminded of this these words again… “Growth is painful.  Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck  somewhere you don’t belong!!” – Anon

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