Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted May 22, 2022

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We are responsible for our own happiness

Follow The String

by Annmuma

One of my mom’s favorite things to say to me when I complained was, “Grow where you are planted, Olevia.  God made a special place, just for you and that is where He put you.”
As a child, I chafed at that directive. I reacted not to what she said, but to what I heard. “Be satisfied.  Squelch your ambitions.  Don’t ask for more.”   As I grew older, I began to hear, not only her words,  but also the sound of the life she lived.  The sound of a life is found in the honesty, the love, the compassion; the sound of my mom’s life echoed in every person she met.  I began to listen, hear, and remember from a deeper spiritual place.   Now those words are understood as the basis for following a string through the maze of life.  The spot where I’ve been planted changes often and I must keep my eye focused on that string wherever it leads.

Today, this hour, this minute is all there is in any life.  Everything else is either the future or the past.  I face this instant in my life to the best of my ability because the next one will come without any encouragement from me, but it will be altered by what I do now.  When my goals are to love all, to tolerate differences by searching for common ground, and to create a better atmosphere for everyone sharing my ‘instant’, the rewards are abundant.  But the Golden Rule does not always work every time for every person.  

I watched a story on a TV broadcast, 20-20, Dateline, or some such show.  It was years ago and, while I don’t remember the broadcaster, I distinctly remember the show.   It began by telling the background story of a crime committed some twenty years before:  A brutally raped woman, whose perpetrator was now being considered for parole. 

The inmate was twenty-one at the time of the rape and conviction; his rap sheet was a mile long and he seemed dead set on wasting his life, creating havoc and hurt among all he met along the way.  Prison appeared to be a turning point where he obtained a college degree -I don’t remember in what- and he was appointed to a semi-management position working with other inmates’ rehab programs.  

Based on what I saw and heard on the show, the man seemed to have ‘bloomed where he planted himself by his actions’.  The forty-one-year-old man of today bore little resemblance to the criminal of twenty years ago.  The rape victim had difficulty seeing anyone other than the twenty-one-year-old who viciously committed the crime. 

The reporter’s conversation with the victim went something like this:
“Ms. Brown, what do you think about Mr. Jones’ appearance before the parole board?”

“I’ll fight to keep that monster in prison.”

“I understand he sent to you written apologies?”

“Apologies!  That doesn’t change anything.  I can’t go before the parole board to get rid of the pain he caused me.  I still can’t trust anyone, and I have fears I never had before that awful night.”

“Can you imagine a day when you would be willing to see Mr. Jones’ life sentence commuted or parole granted?

“No.  He took something from me that can never be returned.  He has no right to freedom, and I’ll fight against that freedom as long as I live.”

My heart hurt for that woman as the victim of a terrible crime, but more so because she chose to relive the worst day of her life, every day of her life.  She was lost in a sea of hurt from which she refused to be rescued by the only person who could rescue her – herself.   She could not see that her freedom, her happiness, her joy depended on her ability to forgive.  She was more tightly imprisoned than the rapist.

What I’m trying to say is earthly journeys are opportunities to learn, to grow and do much more than just exist.  The job is to live a life that leaves the world a better place, and to realize that I hold the key -- and you hold the key-- to personal happiness.  God is no respecter of persons, and I cannot know the circumstances of another. 

I vow to: Say I love you every chance I get.  Hug a child.  Buy someone’s lunch. Smile. Share a good conversation over a cup of coffee. Listen. Take a walk in the woods. Pray. Say thank you. Write a story. Tell a joke. Get up when I fall. Ask for forgiveness and grant more than I ask for. Stand up for what I believe, but not so tall that I can’t see there’s another side.  Accept responsibility, but also give it.  Be no one’s doormat but hold the door open for the person next in line.  Pick up after my dog.  Call an old friend. Plant a shrub. Give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay.  

I will judge no one solely by the worst thing they have ever done, nor will I get lost in seeing only the best thing they've accomplished.  I will ultimately be judged by my life as a whole, individually and just as every other person passing through an earthly existence will be judged by theirs.  I accept that I am no better or worse than anyone, and that acceptance allows peace to come. 

I am committed to following the string as I live my life and follow my goals. I will celebrate life as what happens in the ‘instant’ where I am and acknowledge that is the only one I can change.  I will grow where I am planted.  God made a space for me where I am – wherever that is today and wherever it will lead tomorrow.  I will follow the string as I walk through whatever doors open today, without regret for any that close behind me.
Peace must come on a person-by-person basis. 


Story of the Month contest entry



I've been feeling philosophical lately. Looking at some changes in my life and thinking about what is really important. Writing it down is the easiest way for me to see and understand what I'm thinking.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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