Monday, December 10, 2012
Who Am I?
Let’s start with music, an unlikely place to start, considering I can’t sing or sit still through a song.
I like some classical music but I usually can’t identify either the musician or the symphony, or as I said, just sit and listen for very long, as my husband can, who loves it so much. But I especially like Handel’s Messiah. And I love flash mobs singing Christmas music.
I like country music, both the twang and the fact that it often tells a story; but not the kind where “if you play it backwards, you get your dog back and your house back and your wife back”. Not that I don’t like to get things back (but of course that’s only a joke), but that I don’t enjoy watching people lose them in the first place. I especially like Johnnie Cash and Carrie Underwood.
I like Black Gospel music (did I say that correctly?). And as a child going to church camp, I liked what were then called “Negro spirituals”. (I hope there’s nothing disrespectful in my saying that). I enjoyed folk songs of any kind and later “pop” on the radio…whatever told a story or spoke to the human condition. One of my favorite songs at camp was Dem Bones Gonna’ Rise Again, which introduced me to Adam and Eve and original sin, which I later learned more about when I became a Catholic. To me, it explains a whole lot of things about the world and the human condition.
I like American musicals. A few years ago, the day my friend went to the hospital, one of my children was watching Showboat and I cried my heart out over Old Man River, although as far as I could tell, my friend was neither ‘tired of living’ nor ‘scared of dying’. But I thought there was still too much truth to that song in our world, and of course music itself can pull you in to an emotional place you may need to be at a particular time.
I like to listen to my husband sing in the choir, and I liked hearing my brother-in-law, John, sing, “It’s a Wonderful World” just like Louis Armstrong.
Music speaks to my soul but I’m not a musician and it’s not my hobby. My hobbies have been whittled down over the years to pretty much just reading and writing, but I have made feeble attempts in my life at whittling, crafts, and making patchwork. I have played the flute, where I didn’t learn to get into the rhythm of the band very well (my teacher’s concern) but I learned finger memory, which I later put to good use typing.
I enjoy adding little decorative touches to our home, however humble they may be. My tastes are not sophisticated but people have told me they feel comfortable – or peaceful - and I always figure that if this “hyper” person can make you feel comfortable, then I’ve accomplished some little beautiful thing.
I like to take walks. I used to like to hike and that’s what my husband and I did on many of our first dates. As a child, I always liked to ride: bicycles, mini-motorcycles, ponies. I had a privileged youth in that regard, though not in some other ways.
I love beautiful cars…not to own them – I usually drive cars that are plain and just plain old (not vintage kind of old) – but I like to admire beautiful cars. Sometimes they take my breath away!
I homeschooled my six children because I wanted to be sure they would keep the faith I had adopted. Not all of them did. And not all of them think homeschooling was a good thing, either. But they all appreciate the effort that went into it, they are all caring, responsible adults, and our family is full of love and mutual respect.
I have often had a view of myself as being timid, and I have trouble getting it out of my head, but it’s rarely true. I got that perspective partly because I was abused as a child by an older child, and it has taken most of my life to understand that it wasn’t my fault. But I spent my last year of high school putting out a school paper that publicly questioned what the school administration was doing. And more recently, I once stood up to a policeman in my home in a bullet-proof vest (who wanted to barge into the room of a sleeping son because of what turned out to be what I had guessed: mistaken identity). The picture he showed me when I questioned him was of a boy who was not white, and I think that’s why I was able to convince him to stop and let me go wake my son instead of him going in, probably ready to cuff him first and question after, or perhaps ready to draw his gun. What upset me most was not the violation of our home by a swat-like team, but that it might have gone worse for someone else.
I am vehement about racial equality and get shaking angry about injustices that I perceive may be related to race or culture. Also, I’m well aware that, to this day, there are probably people of all races who might not agree with me on what I’m about to say, but I’ve always been very much in favor of racially mixed marriages. Love is universal. And my sister married a man from China, those many years ago. Also, racially mixed marriage was the only thing I ever argued with my grandfather about, when I was probably 16, back in the 60's. Since that time, I’ve changed my mind about a whole lot of things but never about that. Although I respect differences in culture, I also believe what my son Paul used to say, “There is only one race, the human race.”
I write books to promote justice and faith and family, and so many things, but most of them are inside my head and may never come out. I have more ideas and plans than I could accomplish in a lifetime, yet sometimes I whittle away my time on the internet. Sometimes I feel like my dad, who was always building and repairing, and collecting and organizing, and always making new plans. Or like my mom, who had cooking and sewing and cake decorating and crafting projects, as well as the knitting that I would grow out of while it sat in the cupboard waiting for her to come back to it. You might say I have a focus problem and that I came by it honestly. In some ways, though, I am too focused on writing, and need to take time out to eat right and exercise more.
I’ve always had trouble trying to balance serving my family with doing other things I wanted to accomplish. It’s taken me a lifetime, faith, and good counseling to learn that it’s not really about how much we accomplish! It’s about being who we are. It’s about loving God, loving ourselves, loving our families and friends. And in the process of all that love, in the cocoon of all that love, we will probably accomplish more than we ever dreamed.
God bless you.