A blog dedicated to books, yoga, family, love and that eternal search for meaning in life....plus, some humor along for the ride. My thoughts are seldom in a straight line, so enjoy the curves in the road with me.
Have you noticed how many bumper stickers appear on cars these days? It seems as if everyone has an opinion, on just about every subject. The far left believes that we should all be vegetarians, remain out of all wars, reduce our carbon footprint and vote for the Democratic party. The far right wants us to know that we can take their guns from them...out of their cold, dead hands, as well as demanding that we vote for the Republican candidates. We are told to wear Birkenstocks and to share the road with bicycles. We are implored to shop locally and think globally. We are entreated to ask for birth certificates and reminded of the Bill of Rights. There are stickers denoting a Confederate flag, whether or not a person's child made the Honor Roll at Lincoln Middle School or how they'd like to kill fans of a rival sports team. On and on the bumper stickers go. People don't advertise their politics or personal code of ethics on their sleeves, but on their cars.
Frankly, the one bumper sticker I'd be slightly tempted to put on my car would read "Pro-privacy". Why? Because I prefer not reading about someone's legislative dynamics. Again, why? Because so few people live up to the standards their vehicle may espouse. By virtue of noticing a person's 'light reading' when stuck in traffic, I hold that person to the standards their car advertises. I don't think that's an unreasonable assumption to make.
An experience I had recently brought this point home. The bumper sticker on the back of a Prius read "Well behaved women seldom make history". I happen to agree with this sentiment. I graduated from the oldest women's college in the United States and I'm very proud of that fact. During my time in college, I learned more than the average college student about the role of women throughout history. The suffragette movement was particularly interesting to me because I came of age to vote my first year of college. I learned what an extraordinary priviledge this was and that I was able to be a voting woman thanks to a group of 'non-well behaved women' who lobbied tirelessly. They were the vocal minority fighting against an equally vocal majority who did not believe that women were capable of deciding government affairs.
The "pious Prius" in front of me, however, led me to feel anger at this particular bumper sticker. In addition to cutting me off in heavy traffic, the driver flipped me 'the bird' and screamed "get your 'bleeping' gas guzzling SUV off the road." She also yelled out epithets regarding female dogs and the possibility of my being illegitimate at my birth. As I slammed on the brakes (to avoid hitting her car, as she ran through a stop light), the bumper sticker was inches away from my own front bumper. I followed this driver slowly, through the gridlock of Maine summer driving, and had ample opportunity to think of nasty rebuttals. My mind went round. And round. And round. Every vicious, calculating, evil idea that crossed my thoughts remained on the tip of my tongue. When the non-well behaved woman held up traffic to double park in town, and I was able to inch by her, I had the perfect opportunity to shout any one of the snarky retorts I'd devised. My window was down. She was stuck next to her double-parked car because nobody was letting her cross the road without being in the crosswalk. Dozens of mean spirited comebacks were available to me!
I did not say any of them. I actually smiled, and waved her on so that she could cross in front of me. Of course, I thought these comments to myself. My internal monologue was screaming at this woman. But, I didn't say a word. Why? Because I'm far too well behaved to have caterwauled unkind, and unnecessary, insults. Maybe this means I won't make history. I'm positive it signifies that I'm doomed to live a quiet life of swallowing scorn. But, I'm okay with that. I don't believe I'm any less valuable to society because I am a well behaved woman. I'm frankly damn proud of being well behaved. In a world in which people hurl insults at one another based on which baseball team one favors, I'd like to think I can rise above this kind of petty anger, sparked by bumper sticker mayhem.
I don't put bumper stickers on my car. I have no beef with anyone that does choose to advertise their beliefs in a vehicular fashion.What I do have is some advice: keep in mind that your "words of wisdom" are read by lots of people every day. If you choose to advertise your feelings on any given subject, you should be prepared to live up to those same words. If they entreat, implore or encourage the person in the car behind you to believe in your ideals, you should be answerable to them. If your bumper stickers are offensive, harsh or downright disrespectful to anyone, ask yourself why you feel the need to publicly put others down. I agree wholeheartedly in difference of opinion. The world would be a tremendously dull place if we all felt the same way on every issue. I've actually learned the most from people with whom I have had a healthy debate. Yet, far too often people's opinions cross the line in a very public way that may even reflect badly on the very issues they feel strongly about. Is it too much to just want us all to 'get along'? Is common courtesy a thing of the past? I remain steadfast in my own commitment to simply 'be nice'.
In the meantime, I remain a well behaved woman. I may never make history, but I fully intend to live up to my own paradigm. I just choose to keep those ideals private.
Even a good garden may have some weeds. ~Thomas Fuller
Despite my intensely prolific brown thumb, I was determined to have a garden this year. I love and admire my friends who garden. My friend, Tammie, could create an English country garden in one season...one that looked as if it had been there forever. My friend, Deb, was able to design an outdoor space that had magical looking corners in each part of her yard. Even my mom's Arizona yard is much more 'Southwest resort' than it is desert wasteland. So, despite my lack of knowledge and skill, I decided that this was going to be the year I made my yard a haven, and not a hodgepodge.
I failed. I failed miserably. The bulbs I planted last fall must have been eaten by the world's fattest chipmunks, who seem incredibly pleased with themselves this year. (No doubt, they'll be expected the same gourmet buffet in October). We lost a good many trees to the heavy snows. My flowers were either overwhelmed by rain or steamed by the intense heat of the past weeks. It was disappointing.
And yet, there are some things growing in my yard. They're just not the roses or day lilies I was expecting. There are flowering weeds just about everywhere. My mom has always maintained that weeds are much smarter than cultivated plants. She believes they are hardier and more adaptable. So, they can spring up wherever they can take root. The irony? Many of them are quite lovely. In my front yard are growing some lovely purple things. Do I know the names of them? Nope. I have no idea what they are. But they add some color and spunk to an otherwise purely green space. I have decided not to cut them or pull them out. They are pretty, they are hardy and they are resilient. So, I'm letting them grow where their wished for cousins have failed to bloom. They are really are quite charming.
I think that these weeds are a bit of a metaphoric message to me. We may wish for things to be different in our lives....we may want to change who we are and what direction we want to take. We may try to cultivate the parts of ourselves that we want to be more beautiful, more successful and more organized. The pieces of our intentions that take root aren't always the ones we expect...or the ones we've desired. However these 'weeds' of our personality may very well be quite wonderful. Perhaps our stubbornness sees us through tough times and enables us to persevere. Maybe our quick temper is a way we focus our energy in short bursts and can be trained--laser beam strong--to cut through layers of drama. What if the parts of ourselves we don't like can be looked at in another way? What if we can see our faults as essential layers of our personality, not to be winnowed and extracted, but honed and refined...creating something unique and useful?
Obviously, not all weeds, whether literal or metaphorical, are good for us. If left unchecked and allowed to run wild, they can take over completely and reign our yard and our lives in anarchy. Still, I wonder what would happen if we began to see other weeds, the pretty ones, the interesting ones, the curious ones, in a new light. Perhaps those weeds might serve a purpose for us if we only look at them in a different way.