How Do You Vote?

I’m not stirring the pot of the heated election of 2016. I mean in your life, in your relationships, how do you vote?

Do you vote with your presence… or your absence? In a world filled with distractions, it can be tempting to eschew the company of a loved one for another trip down the Reddit feed or a Snapchat conversation with a friend. I have had many car trips with teenagers glued to their phones, and the longstanding rule of no technology at the table is continuously broken. Each look down instead of up is a choice for and against, and each vote is counted as a tally mark on the heart.

What role does work play in your life? A job is a necessity, but it can become a mission, another separate world complete with its own gravity, populated with its own citizens that speak a completely different language. Family becomes a distant blip on the horizon, a destination that becomes harder and harder to reach.

Do you take the time to visit loved ones, or do distances that are short on the map become insurmountable, as hard to reach as if they were on the other side of the world? It is said, where there’s a will, there’s a way, so the converse must be true as well.

Do you vote with your presence or your absence?


Photo credit: craftivist collective via Foter.com / CC BY

 

Do you vote with words of kindness or of criticism? Do your words uplift or devastate? Negative words are like acid, drop by drop tearing down even the strongest foundation. Kindness is a glue that binds and builds not walls, but webs, scaffolds of strength that hold us all up and unite us. After a long day at work or school, are your words measured and thoughtful or impatient and rude?

Your words are your vote toward what you value. Do you vote with kindness or criticism?


Photo credit: symphony of love via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Do you vote with your dependability or do you frequently betray trust? Can your partner, your parent, your friend, or your child depend on you to catch them when they fall or do you constantly rock the boat just as soon as they stand? Where do your loyalties lie? Is impressing the masses more important than holding tight to those in the inner circle? In life it’s good to know who’s got your back. Trust is the foundation of love, and without it, love falls apart.


Photo credit: birgerking via Small Kitchen / CC BY

So, in the relationships of life, how do you vote?

 

The Argument

The late night dancing raindrops shimmer
In headlights, as in the cold
We yearn for the warmth of a crackling fire.

Words fly, and the fire
Of pent-up frustrations shimmer
In tears of a love grown cold.

Though piercing words stream cold
And sharp, they fuel a fire,
Through memories that are but a distant shimmer,

And we discover a shimmer of cold love reawakening in fire.

      

Touched

Webster’s defines touch in the following ways:

: to put your hand, fingers, etc., on someone or something
: to be in contact with (something)
: to change or move (something)


Images by John ‘K’ / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The touch of a hand on baby’s soft skin,
On the wisps of silky hair,
Taking small fingers into mine
The miracle hits me right there.

The feel on my skin of a crisp, cool morning
Reminds me of school bus days,
And the cold, salt air of the Northwest beach
Takes me out of the workday haze.

But to touch someone’s heart is the best type of touch;
It’a feeling that lingers still.
Humanity served, connections preserved
Of kindness, love, and good will.


symphony of love / Foter.com / CC BY

In response to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/the-power-of-touch/: Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?

Reciprocal Love

I love Shel Silverstein’s poetry for kids. It’s fun and insightful, and I read his poems to my classes all the time. Yet I am confounded by one of his books called “The Giving Tree.” On the simplest level, it’s the story of the relationship between a boy and a tree. The boy plays with and climbs the tree, then starts using the tree for resources. The tree gives and gives, and the boy always returns, but only to take. For some inconceivable reason, this makes the tree happy, at least until the boy builds a boat and sails away, finally making the tree sad. (I think I would feel relief.) Eventually the boy returns, and when he does, so does the tree’s happiness. From what I remember, it continues in this vein right up to the end. People love this book. They tout it as a wonderful example of unconditional love. I hate it. I think it’s a horrible story about selfishness and codependency. It’s a terrible book for kids. Could I accept it as a tongue in cheek book for adults? Maybe. But as a book for kids? Never.

Which brings me to the question posed by The Daily Prompt: How far would you go for someone you love? How far would you want someone else to go for you? 

The answer has changed as the years have passed. I used to be more willing to give of myself, of my time and my money, like the poor tree in the book. My bar was set pretty low, and I gave more than I received. Unlike the tree, however, this didn’t make me happy. It made me feel unloved and taken advantage of. My friends talked, but did not listen. Others in my life required favors, but were not there when I needed them. Eventually my bar inched up until for a while I just stopped giving. They were baffled, but I felt less like a doormat. Does this mean my sense of love is not as refined as the tree’s, that I’m incapable of unconditional love? I’d like to think it means I’m smarted and wiser than the tree, and capable of looking out for myself. I have come around and found a way to be there for friends and family in a way that works for me.

Of course the relationship is different for children, but only to a point. I have watched my four lovely little creations enter this world with a spark of life. Like any good mom, that was a time when I would absolutely go to the moon and back or fight any intruder to the death for them. As they grew, their needs became more wants than necessities, and I had to regroup and see what I was willing to give and what I expected in return. This is where the tree and I part ways. She never expected anything in return. She never taught the tree where the boundaries in a relationship were, and that’s an unkind thing to do to the child. I will absolutely help my kids in times of trouble, but only when I am the last option, and even then I require their appreciation. I will help them brainstorm their way out of trouble before I intercede financially or otherwise. I now have adult children who talk about caring for us in our later years, so I know this tough love was the right approach.

I would go to the moon and back for the people I love, but only because I know that they would do the same for me.