Change is inevitable

Change is inevitable… but it can fill us with trepidation. When I researched this post, I was astonished at how many ‘change is inevitable’ quotations there are from Benjamin Disraeli’s ‘Change is inevitable. Change is constant.’ to more prosaic.  Sometimes people long for change, as we did before we moved to Egypt. That move was less fearful, although more challenging, than the next to Texas. We could not have predicted that the second Gulf war would have started 4 months after our arrival in Cairo nor could we have anticipated so many extreme weather events in Texas. The recent deep freeze was just the ‘icing’ on the cake. Do you see what I did there? Teddy is tired of my silly, pun filled humor after a year sequestered together…

I am leading up to the elephant in the room – the biggest change in modern history and most of us didn’t see it coming. Dare I even mention the pandemic or are we all sick of it? Not only have we dealt with unexpected change personally but also in society. Some cultures and nations have dealt with it more graciously and effectively than others. I am not a fan of Sweden’s current laissez faire approach to Covid-19 but perhaps not unexpected given their history of forced sterilization of mentally disabled/unwell, Roma (and other people deemed anti-social) from 1906 to 1975. Something similar happened in Canada to the indigenous. We all know how despicable the USA can be – need I list our many egregious acts? I dare not cast any stones. None of us truly know what was or is the best course of action for this pandemic, nor will we for years. Life will not go back to what it was but will evolve into something different, perhaps better or worse. This year has given us plenty of time to think and reflect – a scary prospect for many of us. I rarely look in a mirror for long because I don’t like what I see both superficially and behind my eyes.

Since my second vaccination there has been a calming within me. I am fully aware that there could be a Covid mutation lurking but I am less panicked about getting seriously ill. The truth is that I am always unwell and that’s why I take daily medication. I have looked at my behavior and actions this year – my mental illness is real, quantifiable and more debilitating than I thought. Strangely, it is a relief to finally accept the truth. No magic pill or treatment awaits me. It is not normal to go to bed at 6 pm, fall asleep about 9.30 pm and then not rise until 11 am. I am not always fully asleep but I am hiding under the covers or reading. Yesterday I did something I had been putting off for weeks. We called an air conditioning firm, got quotations and we are having a completely new HVAC system installed.

I wanted it done quickly but was totally overwhelmed by the speed and cost although I had thoroughly researched it (for years). I went to bed even earlier, chewed my mouth until it hurt and didn’t get up until midday. After they finish the installation, I will be even more anxious, in physical pain from tensing my body and will probably drink some unnecessary wine. I still haven’t learned to pace myself either because as soon as the charming chatty estimator left, I went to two garden centers to replace the dead plants in our yard. In the last year there has been significant building on the farmland and forest around our township.  Roads that were once quiet are frenetic.  You are either stuck behind a very sporty Audi driven by some old dude at 30 mph or some eejit in a truck who is weaving at high speed. The tension was rising in my addled brain and when I could barely find a parking space at either garden center, I just retreated to the safety of our home. That wiped me out.

I felt so frustrated – where is the person who trekked across Belize, Mexico and Malaysia solo? Perhaps this is how a caged animal feels when you open the door?  Objectively, I know that time is a great healer and practice will make driving feel less frightening.  Much of my working life was spent soothing clients in distress, from mentally ill people and passengers at the airport.  Sometimes they were both!  The inability to interact with people in a meaningful way inevitably leads to self-absorbed thinking.  We are unable to use perspective without seeing normal societal encounters as a gauge.  Therapy is an ideal option for some but not for me.  I hope this is not seen as a negative post as I would prefer it to be revelatory.  Positivity is a wonderful trait if it is genuine but you can’t force it.  Over the last year I have felt ridiculously happy at times, sometimes anguished and now thoughtful.  Then there is all the guilt about the people who are struggling much more but that’s another post.

This is part one of an essay about Change and Evolution.

Please don’t hate Muslims

istanbul abu dhabi 259

As soon as the attacks in Paris occurred, I knew there would be a backlash not just against ISIS but all Muslims. Surely the world must realize that the majority of Muslims are peaceful with no wish to harm anyone? As one Parisian Muslim said yesterday on CNN, “These people are not Muslims – they are going to hell”. You can misinterpret any ancient religious text – from the Old Testament to the Book of Mormon. The Old Testament reflected the violence of the times – an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. In biblical times it was common for men to take more than one wife to protect a widowed sister-in-law because so many men died in battles. I did not meet one polygamist in Egypt despite the law allowing you to have four wives that must be treated equally. Some of the Koran’s texts are archaic but it is still just a general moral code, like the Bible and the Torah.

To get some perspective, if you ever, even unwittingly, supported one of the ‘Irish’ groups in the US who were funneling money to the IRA, in the 70s and 80s, then you may have unintentionally reduced the quality of my and my family’s life. One time when I was staying in a relative’s home in southern Ireland, the house shook to when a bomb went off in Northern Ireland more than 50 miles away. I know that the IRA, and likely the Loyalist Protestant faction, were smuggling drugs, guns and other illicit substances across the border to fund their terrorism. I have to share some guilt in this. When I was a teenager, a neighbor’s son, who was at school with me, was rumored to have joined the IRA. He was probably disenfranchised, lived in over-crowded public housing and was the minority religion in a Protestant city. That said, he was streamed, like me, to study medicine or law so the world was his oyster with public funding available for university study. Perhaps I should have told a teacher or someone else in authority but I was too frightened to say anything. In any case, I had no evidence of his activities other than the information was from a very reliable source. His parents used to play Irish rebel songs at full blast in the back yard just to annoy the Protestant neighbors – we felt horribly stuck in the middle.

I suppose what I am saying is – did you hate all Irish Catholics or Irish Protestants when the IRA/Loyalist terrorism was at its height? What about the Kennedys? When terrorism rears its ugly head, we need to be vigilant, sensible but keep perspective. One decade it was Christians, the other Muslims and yet another, people of no faith. Bottom line – you have to be a bad person to take the life of an innocent for whatever cause you believe in.