Sunday, November 27, 2022

It’s Sunday. Let’s Talk About Sin.                   


 

         Sin is probably not a topic most people want to venture into discussing, but, what the hell. It’s Sunday. A bunch of folks have gone to a house of worship already today, I’d imagine. A few have sought forgiveness I suppose, while others have amassed simply to hear the Word of their choice, to show reverence to some higher entity, to reconnect with neighbors and friends, to feel puffed up with piety, or most likely to chitchat, gossip, or tell a tale or two to a willing ear. Why not? Worshiping sites provide people a place to congregate, to share a sanctimonious moment, to allow faith to sink in . . . one more time.

            Not everyone is a churchgoer. As a child I was, out of deference to my parents who insisted. As an adult, I am not. Instead of being inside a building with men and women I do not know, I would rather take a walk outside with my best friends – my husband and my two German Shepherds who love me and help me feel whole. I’d rather feel a crisp, cool wind kiss my cheeks as I look at the cloud-streaked sky, multiple shades of blue and grey. I’d rather take in fall’s display as branches of trees quiver in the breeze and drop leaf, after leaf, after leaf, the colors – orange, crimson, yellow, russet, bronze, and brown – feasts to my senses. I’d rather take in the smells – wood burning in a fireplace - the house toasty nearby, pungent whiffs of molding, rotting leaves that remind me of childhood, and myriad smells of breakfast escaping the confines of kitchens somewhere – bacon, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin spice, brewing coffee, fresh bread. Ah! So yes, I’d rather consign my reverence to the outdoors; it refreshes me and reminds me of a few things that make the world more beautiful. These daily respites, my walks – not only on Sundays – keep me grounded and give me peace amid a society that is sadly wrought with wickedness. And that brings me back to sin.

            I doubt few folks have escaped learning about the seven deadly sins – cardinal sins, capital sins – that, if not careful, can plague any living, breathing soul. Need a reminder? They are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride, not necessarily listed in order of weight or potency. Every single transgression has the power to cause pain, has the strength to harm, to damage, to wound, to defame, and each has touched us all. It’s true and depending on the giver or receiver some folks have been affected to a greater degree than others. I want to believe that most human beings sin in moderation. They don’t hurt themselves or others intentionally. Sometimes a stinking little sin will sneak out though, and when that happens, most of us have the ability to say, “I’m sorry.” We learn to clean up the mess, to make “things” right again, to learn our lessons. That is not always the case, however.

            I won’t name names. I don’t need to do that. Any person who has read this far can think of one . . . two . . . damn, a whole slew of famous and infamous individuals who literally wallow in the seven deadly sins, some floundering up to their eyeballs. And there’s no stopping them. Many are so caught up in the need for power and control that they have lost sight of what they are doing – or maybe not; fact is, quite likely they never had a clue that a difference in right and wrong existed in the first place. I doubt if a thousand visits to a house of worship, not to mention a few walks in the woods, could change these offenders’ ways of thinking, of living, of abusing, or of creating grief, pain, and chaos wherever they go. It’s simply not in their DNA. Is there an answer, a solution to combating such cardinal sinners? Maybe, though I am skeptical.

            For anyone who holds hope as a means to an end, I pray he or she is correct. Finding faith in hope is admirable indeed though I must be honest: my advocacy waivers. The notion of hope and faith facing off with grave sinners gave me rare pause today, however, so I decided to share my thinking. Afterall, it is Sunday. 

 

 

www.jdechesere-boyle.com

 

                                



            

Saturday, November 12, 2022

 I Can’t Feel My Heart 


 

I have had this quotation - “I can’t feel my heart.” -  scrawled on a post-it note, pasted to my desk beneath my computer for a very long time. I keep going back to it. The words were spoken by a child, and I doubt many folks could find a better way to describe absolute angst and complete anguish over being treated unfairly. It is likely the words were not spoken in English; more likely they were uttered through tears in Spanish. The child? I don’t know. 

Where this little urchin is now is a mystery. He could be anywhere – with strangers, alone still, incarcerated in a facility, with an unfamiliar family member, or hopefully with Mama or Papa at last. His plaintive words were overheard at a border detention center some years ago . . . and they have stuck with me. My upbringing probably plays a role.

I grew up in a home whose parents sought religion as a refuge. When a Southern Baptist mother and a Roman Catholic father meet and marry, well, one can imagine the result. It was a bit confusing. My brother and I followed orders and attended Severns Valley Baptist Church when we were instructed to do so. The result of our religious background caused two uncertain young adults to choose different spiritual paths – he to follow the beliefs of another religion, and me to no religion at all other than a silent, reverent, spiritual bent that charges that I do no intentional harm to myself or anyone one else who crosses my path. And that notion brings me back to the sad child who could not feel his heart. 

            When I recall “religion”, two brief phrases always have stuck with me, probably because my mother touted them over and over. The first, “Be ye kind.” The second was “Do unto others as you would have done unto to you.” It’s pretty basic actually. I believed those words then and I do now. I don’t have to attend church or be a part of an organized religion to know that my mother was correct. So, who in some random part of our country, had the right to be so unkind, to cause a little kid to cry out, “I can’t feel my heart.”? And more to the point, why?

            I sound naïve, I suppose, but as I have watched recent events play out on the news, incidents that surely have perpetuated pain and uncertainty among fellow human beings - children and adults - I have thought back on those words, “I can’t feel my heart.” I realize that the need some individuals have for power and control plays into tragic scenarios that occur in our world over and over again. How I wish I could change the thinking of a few people. I can’t though. That is a fact. 

            What I can do, is my tiny part. Compassion, respect, and kindness are fundamental it seems to me, but clearly others think differently. It’s a shame, really, because why on God’s Earth would anyone want to make a child sad enough to say his heart hurts, or that he can't feel it at all?

 

www.jdechesere-boyle.com

 

 

 


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

 Noise

         /noiz/ a sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance

 


I am compelled to write about noise today. The house on the hill just beyond our property has been undergoing renovation for the past year - the whole, past damned year. Every day, we are subjected to hammering, jackhammering, sawing, generators roaring, tractors rumbling, trees being chain sawed down, and woodchippers chopping the wood into pulp. That’s not to mention the deafening sound of myriad heavy items being tossed into huge metal trash containers day, after day, after day. Kaboom! 

Oh, and the music. If one doesn’t like country, she’s out of luck. And the fact of the matter is, I do like country music – some of it – but not so loud the band may as well be parked in my living room. I’ve already offered my two cents to the workers about that one. “Hey,” I yelled over the fence the first week they were working. “Enough already. Turn the  music down. Play it but keep it at a respectable volume for heaven’s sake!” (No, I did not curse, and I did not flip off one single soul although I thought about it.) 

I have a headache. I tried to read for a bit this afternoon but couldn’t concentrate . . . and the book I am reading is Violeta by Isabel Allende, one my favorite writers who generally pulls me in at the first word. Every time I latched onto a sentence today though and began following the author’s drift, I heard another racket. I don’t generally become upset about minor inconveniences, but this is just too much. So, I decided to write about it . . . not that writing will do any good other than to let me vent without taking my frustration out on the workers who, despite their noisiness are just doing their jobs.

The folks who bought the house behind us paid $1.73 million dollars for a house they’ve had gutted and are virtually rebuilding from the shell up. They’ll have a least another million into the project, I am sure. And that’s fine. I hope when the little family settles in at some time in the distant future they’ll be decent neighbors. Right now, however, I have my doubts. 

I’m generally a quiet person, an introvert, a reader, and a writer, who enjoys alone time, who is willing to tolerate the normal, ambient sounds of the household. Nothing more. Unless I am in a place that is appropriately noisy, such as a Warriors game or Giants game, I prefer the sound of silence. Loud voices, blaring televisions, uproarious events have a place I suppose, but I can do without them. But that’s just me.

While I was writing this piece, the noise next door quieted for a time. “Maybe I can fit in a short power nap,” I thought briefly. No luck, the machinery is at full volume again. My ears hurt.

I am well aware that excessive noise can result in anxiety, irritability, distress, and exhaustion. It’s a fact because I have felt those emotions this afternoon. And you know what? Nobody cares. The workers don’t, the owners don’t, and my readers probably don’t either, unless of course, they can relate. With this final rant then, I will stop complaining.

Time to fight fire with fire. I’m going to crank up the weed blower and blow down the driveway. Maybe. Or I’ll take a drive. Or hit something – just kidding! I do have a sense of control but thank goodness for writing. It’s a life saver, perhaps for more than only me.  



www.jdechesere-boyle.com




 

 



 

 

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Friday, October 21, 2022

It’s About Time                                                               


 

I’ve been thinking about time lately. Do we waste it, use it, spend it, measure it, or fritter it away? Does time fly or does it stand still? For me, time tends to fly by – hours, days, years. Where does it go? Indeed, where did it go? Does time simply disappear? Once it’s behind us, is it gone forever? Perhaps not. For haven’t we all said at one time or another, “Remember that time?”

And think about it. We all have had memorable summer times, winter times, lunchtimes, playtimes, bedtimes, and night times we hold dear . . . or, in some cases, want to forget. In a lifetime, I will never be able to recall every moment that has sped by, but sometimes I like to contemplate times gone by. It is in those downtimes that I remember, sometimes with joy in my heart and other times with pain so deep it hurts. So, in that regard, I suppose time basically becomes part of who we are, and it does stand still.

In a moment of pure frivolous speculation, I wondered a day or two ago about how much time I have spent walking down the street with my two German Shepherds carrying green plastic bags filled with dog poop. We walk two or three miles a day, so one can imagine. And how many minutes have I stared at my iPhone playing Words With Friends with folks I don’t even know? And what about staring at the clock ticking seconds down on the microwave while the leftover pizza is heating? Is it absurd to think, during those minutes, about life passing by, just like that? How many hours have I spent putting on mascara, primping, or glowering at a newly discovered line beneath my left eye? How many times have I waited through a halftime, or breathlessly anticipated an overtime when my team can still pull out a win and I can celebrate an uproarious uptime? How many minutes of time have I spent in bumper to bumper traffic, in a grocery store line, at the doctor's office . . . waiting, waiting? And at night, when sleep has evaded, how often have I wished time would simply get on with it so I can start a new day? Finally, I can't even imagine how many hours of contented time I have spent at my computer writing, creating, imagining, and writing more. Now that's a happy time.

I actually looked up the dictionary definition of time: the indefinite, continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. Thank you Mr. Oxford. It is timely that I read this because it influences my writing. I plan to capture and schedule elusive time to revamp my blog that has been sorely neglective during the time of Covid and political darkness that unfortunately seems timeless. I hope any reader enjoys reading this blog and will anticipate future ones, for at this point, I have timed out.

 

 

www.jdechesere-boyle.com




 

Monday, August 31, 2020

 Your Opinion? Is Anyone Listening Anyway?


 

 

This age - “Hey, what about my opinion?” - is a bit overwhelming at times, especially when points of view are splattered all over social media at breakneck speed. I am exhausted by it all – thus this piece.        

 

It took a long time, but Marjorie finally became mute. For years she had blabbered on about what she thought. The topic at hand didn’t matter, the subject matter really was unimportant, and the person to whom she was speaking was the least of her worries. No matter what, she always had something superfluous to add to any conversation, even when she wasn’t invited into the verbal exchange. If a dialogue caught her ear, even when she didn’t know one iota about the subject at hand, even when she made things up, even when she flat-out lied, she would butt in just to hear the sound of her own voice and to bask in momentary glory that her words counted for something. Marjorie spoke up, interrupted, and disrupted, posing views that often had no basis in fact or experience, but rather were conjured notions she spouted out for one simple reason - she loved the resonance of her own pronouncements filling the air. And she puffed with importance when she thought her ideas garnered a bit of attention – positive or negative. 

 

            Actually, an individual’s agreement was all right, but disagreements were better; they stoked Marjorie’s enthusiasm for confrontation, her lust for altercations (frivolous or otherwise), and her inbred need for conflict. Disagreements of any kind fueled the very essence of who she was - and verbal clashes became an outlet for anger and hostility that had lain solid as a stone in her gut her whole life. The latter - rage and resentment - combined with a dismaying, amorphous sense of insecurity and self-doubt that she could never acknowledge existed, took its toll both on Marjorie and the poor souls who became entangled in her web of harsh, hateful ranting; her ridiculous need to instigate discord through a war of words was her weaponry of choice.

 

            That was all true until, at the age of seventy-six everything changed . . . slowly at first, in the forgetting of simple words, in the inability to follow directions, in the desire to stay home, and in the silent truth that other people frightened her. The interactions that, in the past, had energized her by stimulating her brain and challenging her logic, and the verbal exchanges that had breathed life into her very being, in short, painful, incremental passages of time became foreign to her. Distant memories remained, but when they appeared in her mind when she least expected it, she was, more often than not, horrified. Who was that woman? Who is she? Red-faced and snarling, with a mouth contorted in an ugly sneer, the woman shook her finger in the face of another, the exchange of spittle their only connection. Who is she? But Marjorie knew, and she was embarrassed; she was distraught; she was undone. And so, she became mute. It was a fateful choice, one that would see her through her final, tormented days when words hovered like shiny crystals in a brain that could not latch on to even one. Not one. 

 

 

 

www.jdechesere-boyle.com

 

 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Going Down Memory Lane – An Avoidance Technique


Do you remember being ten? What were your hopes and dreams? What made your day? For me it was getting an A on the spelling quiz, not being left out of the friends’ circle at school, and being dared to walk barefoot through a Texas field filled with sticker plants without getting stuck. (To do so was a badge of honor.) It was petting the heads of horny toad lizards and avoiding my brother’s box of snakes; his joy was to catch them . . . and then simply admire. “Look at them. Aren’t the colors pretty?” he’d say, fawning over blue racers, ribbon snakes, and God only knows what others. I kept my distance, instead escaping the one hundred degree heat to sit on a shady porch with a girlfriend or two playing jacks or weaving potholders on small metal looms; my mother oohedand aahedwhen I presented her with my little creations. I won’t forget those moments; her love was deep, absolute, expressed in her eyes, in her smile, in a sticky bear hug.
            A few years later, when our family moved to Kentucky, I recall walking home alone from school on a broken, lopsided sidewalk being sure never to step on a crack – Step on a crack and break your mother’s back.Who, the hell, thought that oneup? But I remember as if it were yesterday. I can almost see the puffy, cumulus clouds overhead and feel the warm, spring breeze as I tripped carefully for several blocks toward our yellow house on Peachtree Street. Inside the kitchen, the one with the peanut butter-colored cabinets and pale, pink walls, my mother would greet me and ask about my day. We’d share a snack and peruse the wall where a map of the world (or, alternatively, the United States) hung - a lesson for the taking. My brother and I knew our geography well, I can assure, thanks to those huge, paper maps and to parents who provided us a key.
It was during this time that I happily became acquainted with the public library. I adored it – the smell, the crowded confines, the patrons (old and young), and the library ladies whose quiet energy had me in awe. I workedtherecovering old books with homespun jackets made from wallpaper scraps. Learning to crease the corners just rightbecame an art form, a rare talent all to itself. When my job was done, I wandered the rooms and aisles at the library - looking, touching, picking, and finally stepping up to the checkout desk with three, four, five books in hand. I was a voracious, young reader, anxious to go places and meet people who lived in worlds far different from mine. Reading - creating visual images in my mind, as real as life - was contentment for me. I suppose that is why I write today. Creating a scene or character using a random - or more likely, deliberate - combination of words on a blank page gives me a sense of satisfaction . . . and hope, too. Maybe someone else will envisage what I saw.
I could fill a volume with tidbits about my youth but I’m afraid I might be the only one interested in reviewing it all. A few presents stand out though, and I’ll mention those here. When I turned sweet sixteen, my present was a small, violet-colored, leather Bible - all my own. While I was not as attentive to the book as my mother might have wanted, I appreciated it anyway . . . and I still have it today. When I was seventeen my parents gifted me with enrollment in The Famous Writers’ School because I had atalentsomeonetold them. The school rep made his pitch, my folks paid the money, and I mailed in piece after piece, most returned corrected with red ink - rebuffs to my “gift”, but, oh well, I kept writing anyway. Most important to me was that someone believed I was worth it. (Oh, how I wish my parents could read my books now. Daddy saw only the first one before he died; he was so proud.) Lastly, when I graduated from high school, the present I received was a portable, Underwood, electric typewriter. Of course, a writer needed a typewriter, and I was thrilled. I pounded on that thing for years. And here I am now, on my computer doing much the same.
So why? I’m not likely to be discovered. No one knows who I am. But I love to write. Now that another novel is complete, I am making an effort to blog a bit more but even that has been difficult of late - resulting, I’m afraid, in this somewhat inane trip down memory lane. 
I’ve always insisted that a writer must write every day, but I’ve fallen into a hideous trap. Yep! I have had writer’s block. In my mind, I have quite a bit to say, but if I write what I’m thinking, it will result in a rant of words against a world that is angry, corrupt, divided, melancholy, and too often, simply mean. I’ve been in a state of mourning, really, because the life I have always cherished seems to be disappearing. It’s difficult to stay optimistic in a world, in a country, that faces a daunting, unpredictable future. So, I’ve avoided voicing my opinion. It’s safer somehow simply to recall easier times. Remembering is an escape and actually can be very enjoyable. And isn’t it odd what one remembers from childhood? My youth was not perfect; I suppose no one’s is, but it was relatively carefree - a much different time.
So today, rather than stomp my feet and curse at the world, I decided to look back and appreciate . . . and, yes I look forward, too, with tempered optimism. I have to believe the past is a catalyst for understanding where we have been and who we are, both the bad and the good. Surely, if we all can do that, humanity will find the right, the just, way to move forward. I dont want to give up hope.




Wednesday, February 5, 2020

It’s All The Rage   


            I am compelled this morning to write about something that has been troubling me; it’s a phenomenon that I see as having crept into our society like a stray cat - and that’s not to infer a negative on felines of any kind. I love cats, but they can be unpredictable, their behavior at times impulsive and a bit fickle. And so is life, it seems.
         I don’t have a cat right now, though I have had many over the years. At this time, I have dogs - two, stunning German shepherds that I walk every day with my husband. We walk three miles a day, rain or shine; we see dogs, dogs, and more dogs, and we also observe many people, and a great deal of traffic . . . and that brings me to the issue that is troubling me. Let me explain.
         Not too long ago, I was on my own with the dogs - one a 105-pound male, the other a 66-pound female. They are a handful - or a “leash-full”. Yet, we manage, because they are smart; they obey. On this particular morning, I was crossing a busy street at the crosswalk with my six-foot, leather-leashed pups. I made it across with no problem before stepping into the crosswalk perpendicular to the one I had exited. It was early and the day was bright with the sun shining brightly. It felt good to be out and about . . . and our little trio was difficult to miss. However, after only five feet into the crosswalk, I was startled by a black SUV, the driver slamming on its brakes, the vehicle screeching to a halt, barely missing us. I stared, but said nothing. The driver, a young woman, rolled down her window and screamed at me, “You’re doing it the wrong way. You’re supposed to stop.” The female’s voice was harsh, her face scrunched in anger . . . at me, at my dogs, for crossing the street in a designated crosswalk. 
I shook my head, pulled my dogs closer, and retorted, “Oh for God’s sake.” I was so astonished I could articulate nothing more. I am sure the woman was shooting invisible daggers at me as I walked on, but so be it. My dogs and I fortunately were safe, and she, the poor gal, had had to stop. She was apt to have been five seconds behind schedule . . . but at least she didn’t have dead bodies to circumnavigate; furthermore, the shiny SUV was dent-free! 
But there’s more.
Just yesterday, my husband and I observed another near miss. We were half a block away from the same intersection where I had almost been stuck; a gentleman was ahead of us with a large, longhaired Collie and a smaller dog, perhaps an Australian shepherd or another dog of that ilk. We watched him enter the crosswalk and when he was more than halfway across the street, a black sedan screeched around the corner nearly hitting him and his dogs. The man staggered backwards with the dogs, and uttered a gasp, but he quickly moved along. He and his pets were safe, the car having missed them by only a foot or so.
The car angled around him and drove much too quickly down the road, passing us. I couldn’t resist mouthing, “Slow down,” as the car passed. My husband muttered something similar and we were “rewarded” with a young woman’s vile tirade. “F#!* you. Mind your own f#@*ing business.”
Wow.
Just wow.
And here’s one more incident - I had arrived at my favorite, local market, grabbed a cart, and was almost through the entrance when I heard a commotion. Several,  “twenty-something”- year-old, young men had raised their voices at a vehicle driven by an older, grey-bearded fellow. The man’s car was squealing around the lot in pursuit of the younger men; he was aiming right toward them and they had to scamper away in order not to be hit. And, of course, the profanities flew. I am unsure of the details as to what precipitated this event, but apparently the old guy had thrown a paper cup filled with coke or coffee at the young men’s car as they exited. I assume there is more to the story, but the fact is that everyone involved was absolutely enraged, and bystanders were shocked, afraid there might really be bloodshed. 
So what is my point? Rage is rampant. Anger, for too many individuals, is only skin-deep, and it’s everywhere. One need only watch the nightly news, or, as in my case, step out the door, to discover how out of control some folks have become in recent months. People are acting and reacting in myriad random and unpredictable ways that make me think the world has gone bonkers. And maybe it has. 
Those among us, who appear to have a grasp of their emotions, tell us to “Be Kind”. Yes, we should. Be ye kind; do unto others as you would have done unto to you; if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.We could fill a page with such trite (though honorable) notions. Possibly those involved in the incidents I mentioned above would be first up with a fat, felt-tipped pen to offer the first “say”, or perhaps the last. For, if one thinks about their behavior, it appears every one of them proposed absolutely to have the last, enraged word when they lashed out at those they left in their wakes. 
Anger is not an unhealthy emotion, kept in check. Everyone gets ticked off now and then. It’s normal. Venting irrational venom, however, is toxic and I’m afraid, at some level, is poisoning us all. It’s pitiful pickle to brine in, isn’t it? It’s that reality - the fact that we cope in an angry world - that has been bothering me though. Thus this blog - for whatever it’s worth . . .  because this is the best way I know to vent.