Sunday, January 29, 2017

Random thoughts on powerlessness

It's been two weeks since my last blog post. I have done no traveling and had nothing out of the ordinary happen. But I have been thinking.
  • I am a certified mediator and I know how to listen. In the last two weeks I have listened to three people relate their personal agony about a loved one with a drug or alcohol addiction. Whether the addict is a child or a partner or a friend, these people are in turmoil, wondering what they could have done - or what they could still do - to change the situation. The "if onlys" and "what ifs" are devastating for them. I remind these people they are powerless over the decisions of others. It takes a very long time to learn that. I can usually remember it myself, but not always.
  • I made plane reservations for myself and my husband Art to go to Greece. We leave on March 21 and return about May 5. We'll be volunteering at the Oinofyta refugee camp - me for the third time, Art for the first. After our monthlong commitment, we'll explore other parts of Greece for ten days before coming home.      Things have changed on multiple fronts since October, when I was there last. Borders are tightening. Meetings are being held between organizations regarding returning Afghans in Greece to their own country, where their lives may be in danger. And at home, tighter restrictions are being put on immigrants. It's impossible to know what will have happened by late March. Still, we have made our flight arrangements. We can't stop living just because of uncertainty. 
  • Last fall I contacted each of our eight grown children. I told them if they wanted to volunteer at a refugee camp for a week or two I would pay their expenses. One of them, my son James, is going with us! He wants to see the bigger world and, "Mom, it will be a great bonding experience for us to do this together." I can see him at Oinofyta. He will be very useful and I'm sure it will be a life-changing, paradigm-shifting experience for him, as it was for me. But probably not in the same way, as he is 37 and I am 68. The travel offer still stands for the other seven. My other son, Russell, wants to go later in the year. He is a nurse and wants to volunteer as a medical person. Maybe he'll go with me in the fall.    I would like for all eight of our grown children to have this experience, but it's up to them. That powerlessness thing, you know.
  • It's been distressing to talk, on Facebook and in person, about the current political situation. I respect the points of view of people who have different opinions than me. But I read insults and sarcasm and lack of listening. We are making things worse if we cannot be civil to each other. I keep being respectful. I think it's better that I remain somewhat engaged rather than dropping out of the conversation. I don't take insults personally, but I have suggested to at least one person that I will not have a discussion with them if they are rude. I have not been rude yet myself. 
  • It's quite windy today here in Tucson. Art and I went for a bike ride. We did okay against the wind, but when we turned a corner and the gusts were coming at us sideways, we didn't feel safe. So we came home early. You don't want to mess with Mother Nature!
We live in interesting times!


Linda Reeder said...

I think it's wonderful that you are inviting your children to participate in this service to refugees. I do wonder what the circumstances will be by late March.
This first week of the new administration has been crazy, chaotic, and ominous. I find myself in "debates" to, and I am trying very hard to be respectful - forceful but respectful. I continue to be baffled at how so many can see things so much differently than I do. When I scratch the surface I find that they believe many things that I think are falsehoods.

Linda said...

I admire your commitment to volunteering in so many areas. It must be painful seeing what's come from the WH this week. I'd like to pull away from politics but It's not the time to do that. It's critical we stay involved. The voters that compose Mr Trump's base seem to prefer him because he "tells it like it is." I consider his method to be bullying and rude. It's impossible to talk to that group. There are, however, more who voted for Trump with great misgivings. Those people you can sometimes engage without the bullying and rudeness. We must stay involved. Apathy is what got us in the mess we're in now.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I guess one of the secrets of happiness is knowing what you can't control, and being okay with that. Not always easy. I think it's great that your son is going with you to Oinifyta. I have thought about the people there as I read about things tightening up. Going back to Afghanistan doesn't seem like a possibility for them.

Olga said...

You really, really walk the talk. So wise to not let uncertainty dictate your life -- not easy, but wise.

DJan said...

I am doing my very best to maintain an optimistic attitude. It doesn't help anything or anybody for me to give up. And I am blessed to be surrounded by good people in my life. You're one of them, Linda. Great post. :-)

Deb Shucka said...

So glad James is going with you! Even as you talk about powerlessness, you express the true power, which is integrity and listening to your own heart. I think these insights are your reward for being relatively still for a while. :-)

Arkansas Patti said...

I so admire your willingness to put yourself in an uncomfortable position to help others. You set the bar high. It is also so neat that your son will be going with you. Service to others is a great gene to pass on.

Sharon Rasmussen said...

How wonderful to invite your kids to experience something that is potentially life changing. I daily have to remind myself that I didn't make the choices that put certain love ones in the place in life that they are now. It's been a struggle to accept that I am powerless to fix it! Have a great time and thank you for giving of yourselves.

joared said...

You're certainly to be admired for your efforts to help,others. I can imagine the trip for your son will make a significant impact. Discerning what we can control and what not very important, I agree.

Sally Wessely said...

I love that you made this offer to your grown children. You are fortunate to be in a position to do such a thing. Perhaps such an experience is more valuable than a college education. Right now, I feel like I am suffering from mental fatigue from all of the political craziness swirling around us. I am also trying to respectful when discussing the great divide. It is hard as I find myself losing respect for so many when the views they express are so hateful and mean spirited.

Voices of NLD said...

I have been stalking your blog forever as I so enjoy complex people who do and don't preach.

I love that you're in a position to, and have offered to take your children to Greece.

I live in an epicenter of the evangelical movement. I always respected people's religious beliefs and hoped (thought) they could accept my cultural Jewish identity (which I gave up trying to explain some time ago)

I too am trained to listen and that gets me into trouble as I realized years ago that people were turning to religion not just to understand the world more or G-d,--I can so understand that---but to tell them how to think and what to do. That's scary. it became scarier this summer when I saw proof of that--Franklin Graham's "articles" were being passed around Facebook telling women to read any psalm, not think, and decide who to vote for based on that. If they didn't come to the right candidate, why it's fine not to vote.
many claimed they would have voted for Bernie had he been the candidate. I don't believe that.
I have or had a good life here but I'm a New Yorker and while not "loud" in tone, loud in my beliefs
I was trying to be nice. But I have to be me. It's increasingly hard. Fortunately I still have some good friends here and many better friends other places. I will probably move in a year or two and that's ashame but...