Finesse

I am probably one of the clutziest people around. I can be in a wide open space and somehow fall over the only fencepost or stumble over a smooth sidewalk. Learning to ice skate was terrifying but I loved it once I got it. Horseback riding was no problem because I wasn’t doing any of the work. And I really love horses. They are very smart, take no guff from anything or anybody. You know where you stand with a horse, he either likes you or he doesn’t.

I am also, as I get older, way too outspoken. It may be a matter of my mouth running ahead of my brain, or maybe part of my brain tries to out-think the part that really wants to use discretion, for the sake of time. Whatever, I say way too many things that I truly wish I could say differently or even not say at all. Sadly, as we all know once something is said it’s there. You can’t unsay it, the vibrations, they say, float around in the air forever. Somebody once told me even George Washington’s voice is still somewhere in the atmosphere. After all these years I can only imagine how distorted that would sound.

Anyway maybe I’m not alone in this. I hope not. But I wish I were more careful about what I say or even how I say it. That can make a difference in total meaning as anybody knows who’s seen that thing where people move commas around in a phrase. Makes the whole thing mean something else entirely.

For that matter as far as it goes I guess letting things roll off our backs is probably the best thing. At least that way something somebody said that could potentially annoy us we can just let it go.

So I guess grace is a handy thing to have either on the receiving or the giving end.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Hearing

We all know listening and hearing are two basically very different things. Hearing is what you do when, as you are going out the back door somebody yells for you to please pick up some things at the grocery store while you’re out. Pretty basic, you don’t have to engage your whole being to get that message. It’s not as if you and someone are trying to sort out a discrepancy or the issue of whether or not to use white lights or multi-colored ones on the tree. That can have some meaning behind it.

No, this is something I have become mildly aware of the past couple of years. This summer I have been trying to get somebody to come take down a dead tree in my front yard. One of my neighbors told me to leave it alone, it would leaf out. Well, she moved and this tree is still dead. No leaves. I had no idea finding someone to take care of this would be so hard. Is there a glut of dead trees? Has some beetle or borer attacked or Dutch elm disease is making a come-back? Well, this week finally I got a company to call back and they said they’d be here Saturday. That same day, around 9:20 p.m. I got a call again and I thought the guy said the same name. Listen, at about 8:30 p.m. most days I start to really fade. By 9 I’m not much use, so I thought well, maybe he got his notes mixed up or something. So he said he’d be by Saturday, he’d call first.

Saturday came. I’d gotten everything done by Friday so I would be sure to be home. By 2:00 in the afternoon nothing happened. Just about to give up, the phone rang at 3. Sounded for all the world like the same one who woke me out of a sound sleep, said he’d be by to look at the tree in 15 minutes and, sure enough, he was. He named a price, said he’d take care of it in the coming week, I didn’t have to be home, then he left.

Well, about 3 hours later I got another call. Sounded just like the first call, sounded like the same name, everything. Said he’d be by in a few minutes. I said I’d thought he’d told me later in the week. He said no, he was working Saturdays and Sundays. So I said I hated for him to come all the way back out here after he’d just been this afternoon. Silence. No, he hadn’t been. I asked if it was the company I thought it was, he said no, did I already give the job to someone else? I said yes, he asked how much, I told him and he said it sounded a fair price. Then we said good-bye after my profuse apologies, the strange error of mis-hearing the names dawning on me. I even checked my caller-i.d. to note the different numbers.

It’s weird getting older. But at least somebody is coming to take the dead tree away.

Best intentions

One of my best attributes is also one of my greatest failings. I am a good listener. But if someone asks me to tell a bit about myself I need a necessary, built-in stop. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, another adage heard first from my ex-husband. This is not to say my parents did not attempt to instill me with wisdom, they just didn’t use cliches. They rather chose to either lead by example, or explain truth and wisdom whenever I fell into a self-made mudhole, which in my life happened more often than I like to remember. According to Wikipedia, if you ascribe to their site, “Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who wrote (c. 1150), ‘L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs’ (hell is full of good wishes and desires). An earlier saying occurs in Virgil’s Aeneid: ‘facilis descensus Averno’ (It is easy to go to hell).” (1)

So today I took a meal to an acquaintance who is finishing a round of chemo for triple-negative breast cancer. Today she needed to talk. Today she needed someone to listen. We began our visit with a question from her: Tell her a bit more about myself, was I working, where I grew up, went to school. So on my tapestry ride I forgot that this was not an everyday friend visit. This is a person with maybe numbered days. Well, we all have numbered days but hers may be less than hoped. Her stamina is not strong. She needs more rest. She began a few times (once ignored is inexcusable) to tell me her thoughts, hopes, considerations of her now and possibilities of the chance of a then. I needed to shut down. Give her the floor, the spotlight, not try to intervene, associate my experience with hers. On my last visit I told her how brave I think she is. Today she needed to tell me. So when I realized my overtime was up and stood to go, she apologized for her pain. I said something absurd like I could imagine. Really?? immediately I corrected myself. No, I cannot imagine, I demurred, and said that I would see her again.

I hope so.

(1) (–Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization). ^ Christine Ammer (1997), The American Heritage dictionary of idioms, ISBN 9780395727744 ^ Mrs E. B. Mawr (1885), “Hell is paved with good intentions”, Analogous Proverbs In Ten Languages, Elliot Stock