28 July 2010


Meaning is so subjective; rarely do people share the same definition for certain words. It's taken me many years to realize that "friendship" is one of them.

What makes a friend? A pleasant person you see on occasion, with whom you share a superficial bond? Or is a friend someone to whom you can trust your darkest secrets and most fervent hopes, whose company you crave on a regular basis, and whose very presence in your life makes your life that much better?

As an introvert, I tend to have very few friends, but many acquaintances. But those I do count as friends I hold very dearly - those are the folks for whom I'll walk through fire and help bury bodies (joking!), and who would do the same for me. Ours is a balanced relationship, with equal give and take, and the vicissitudes of life only serve to make our connection that much stronger.

I've come to learn, however, that not everyone defines friendship the way I do. Or perhaps I expect more from others than they're willing to give. Or they once were, but we have since grown apart and they don't make as much of an effort any more. Or perhaps I'm just not that good at reading people, and offer the bond of friendship to those who aren't willing-or able-to reciprocate in the first place. That, then, is my fault, and one I'm working to correct. It's caused me a measure of heartache over the years, but I've come to think of it as an adaptive process.

What does being a friend mean to you?

24 July 2010

Famous for the Wrong Reasons

Milwaukee made the national news recently, but not in that good Las Vegas way. A series of monster storms over the past three days dumped over a foot of water on us, rendering Milwaukee and its environs waterlogged at best, flooded at worst. They even had to close the airport due to water-covered runways. Go to CNN's website and the first thing you'll see is the gigantic sinkhole in the northern part of the city that swallowed a Cadillac Escalade and a traffic light without so much as a burp.

Our house escaped relatively unscathed this time - not sure how it happened, but I'm thanking my lucky stars. But the company I work for has not been so lucky. A couple of the facilities folks dropped by our office yesterday, tired, unshaven, and grimy; turns out they'd been up all night, trying to get to several of our Milwaukee locations. When I asked what had them looking so worn out, the guys produced pictures of flooded basements, and 8-inch diameter pipes venting veritable geysers of water over building railings into an already swollen creek below. Not only did they have to contend with these disasters, but they had to actually fight to get *to* them - several major highways were closed due to flooding, and they had to find alternate routes that didn't involve fording newly-created waterways.

Wow. Talk about being up a creek without a paddle.

Our location was lucky - we had some minor leakage, but that was it. Events like this make me definitely want to count my blessings!

Hope you are all staying high and dry. With any luck, the guy with the ark should be here soon....

17 July 2010

Finding My Way

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately about happiness, life, and what I can actively do to make sure the two are not mutually exclusive.

They have been, of late; I've been so caught up in angsty contemplation of the vicissitudes of life that I'm forgetting to actually live.

How's that for a brain buster?

It boils down to this: there are so many would'ves, should'ves, and could'ves that cloud our vision, that prevent us from actually enjoying the innate happiness and peace within each of us. In Buddhism, this is reflected in the Four Noble Truths:

1) Life consists of suffering.
2) The origin of suffering is attachment (our desires, cravings, etc.).
3) The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4) There is a path to cessation of suffering, through the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. (These are called the Eightfold Path.)

I guess you could say I've just fallen off the path.

It's time to find my way back.

12 July 2010

Timing is Everything

"You gotta know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run...."
- Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

Knowing when to make an exit is a valuable skill, whether it involves a party, a visit to a friend's home, or the fellowship of a group.

When your participation in any of the above causes you more grief than it does pleasure, you know it's time to go. The cause of that grief may or may not be aware of what he or she is doing; in the best of all possible worlds, we would all have the introspection to realize when our behavior is toxic to others. Unfortunately (with apologies to Dr. Pangloss), this is not the best of all possible worlds, and confronting the source of the conflict often does more harm than good; in that event, the only other option is to remove yourself from the situation, which is exactly what I have done.

Kenny Rogers had the right of it. Now, if only I could get that damn song outta my head....