Today I get the news.  Uncle Jack has passed.  He was 95.  He lived a long, full productive life. But, still, I think he’s my Dad’s older brother.  He has been there Dad’s entire life.  He is the brother-in-law my mother had for going on 60 years. Uncle Jack has gone Home. There’s much rejoicing in Heaven, but there’s a lot of sorrow back here.

I’m 55 now.  People who are 55 will tell you were are not old. We’re middle aged.  But, there aren’t a lot of people living to 110. We’re old.  In our youth, we saw mostly people coming in.  Our parents were having kids.  Their friends were having kids. Then, we were having kids.  Now maybe our kids are having kids. But, what we’re also experiencing more is people going out.  Our parents are aging and dying.  Our friends are getting cancer and having strokes.  We’re going to more funerals than weddings.

Whether you think of this Earth as a prison or a party, a vacation or a place of work, what we experience is people coming and going.  We rejoice at births. We congratulate the parents.  We look forward to seeing that kid grow. We ignore the inevitable pain and toil of Earth-school; we’re just happy to have them here. We forget the fact we’re all going to leave some day. And worse, it’s not all on the same day. There are going to be good-byes. Once we get to this point in our lives it hits us. We all leave. We all go out.  Someday in the not too distant future, I will say good-bye to my parents or vice versa.  One of us will be left here, the other gone on.

I was talking with my mother the other day about Uncle Jack’s pending transition. This was after he was in hospice.  We talked about cultures who actually celebrate death. It’s so counter to our culture, though. We ignore death until it’s right up on us.  Then we fight it until it overtakes us. Then we mourn it once it’s come.  Why do we do that when we know more with more certainty than anything else we know that death will come?  Why do we fear the inevitable? How do we flip that?

That’s what I’ve been working on. And it’s hard work.  Anything counter-cultural is difficult at best. At least an hour a day, usually closer to two hours a day, I am retraining my mind to accept the inevitable to even embrace the inevitable; because death is only the end of this Earth-bound relationship. It’s the beginning of a new life for those who go before us. And one day, we’ll all be together again.

One of the few happy songs I remember from growing up in the church is “When We All Get to Heaven”  I played it for my Uncle Jack this morning and shed a few tears over the relationships lost here, but had a little smile about his party in heaven and his new body. Bon voyage Uncle.  See you soon.

I’ve said it before. I will probably say it again. There are bad days, then there are worse days. If you see me and it seems I am having a good day, that means it’s just one of the bad days, not the really terrible ones.  This life is about endurance for me now. It’s just how do I pass the time. Weekends, for most of us, are a time to look forward to a couple of days off.  There are no days off of grief. And, having something to do, something on the calendar, helps the time go faster.  Saturday, Ty had a golf lesson. Then she and a friend went out shopping. I had most of the day by myself. The Buckeyes had a bye week.  So, here I am wondering how do I fill my day? My mind drifts back to when the girls’ calendars drove our days. It was always a practice or a game or some event they needed to be driven to.  The opening lines of Games People Play by Alan Parsons is :

Where do we go from here now that all other children are growin’ up

And how do we spend our lives if there’s no-one to lend us a handI don’t want to live here no more,
I don’t want to stay
Ain’t gonna spend the rest of my life,
Quietly fading away

I didn’t think that would become the anthem of my life, at least not this soon.  

I always begin my day with the walk.  It’s my number one priority. Meditation helps, but walking helps more.  While I’m on my walk I get that panic attack feeling.  If you’ve ever had one, yo know it, it’s a strange feeling in your chest and head and you just know you’re going to die. I realize something. As much as I say I want to die, I don’t want to die right now.  Not today. I think of Tywana and Kayla.  I can’t do that to them.  It’s too soon after Shayna. I have to stick it out. The feeling fades as fast as it comes.  It lasts for no more than a second.  But, it’s long enough to make me realize this is where I need to be, even though I am stuck.  I can’t feel better. I don’t want to feel this bad. I just don’t want to feel anything.

I get through Saturday.  At least tomorrow I have the Bengals game to look forward to. I rise early as usual and I get my walk in.  It’s off to church which takes me right up to kick off time.  The Bengals have decided to be the Bungles today. The game is painful to watch as they lose, not even keeping it close.  I get onto Facebook.  In my group of 7,000+ people who have lost a child, someone is always posting. I read a post from a mother who said she barely made it through the night last night. I comment, trying to give her some encouragement. Then I start reading the comments hoping some of them will lift my spirits.  Not this time.  Most of the comments are from other mothers who are having the same issue.The timeframe varies.  A few say it becomes bearable, at least most of the time.  Too many however say it’s been 2 years, 4 years, 11 years and they still feel that way. Still stuck. Still in this place where the whole world is shades of gray instead of color.  Nothing really brings joy, some things just mask over the pain, until that time when our minds snap us back to reality.  “Oh yeah. That really happened.  I had a daughter and now she’s gone.”  Facebook is full of pictures of homecoming kids.  I see Shayna’s friends all dressed up for the dance. I have to turn away. I can’t dwell on the fact she’d be a junior this year, making her college visits.  It’s too much for me today.

I have no one to share this with.  Today is a worse day.  Who knows why? There’s no good reason. The only thing that brings relief is walking and sleep. So, i walk an hour every day.  I don’t feel like I can share this with Tywana. We talk about Shayna- all the time.  We don’t avoid speaking of her, but I feel like me sharing my feelings with her is putting more on her than she already has to carry.  I feel stuck here in the middle.  There is no going back. The fast forward button isn’t working. I keep pressing it, but nothing happens. 

By 8 o’clock, I’m ready for bed. It’s been a long exhausting day, even though nothing unusual has happened.  We watch some TV and retire around 10. I can’t sleep. I confide in Tywana that this has been one of the worse days.  She reminds me that yesterday was 15 months. I didn’t even realize it.  I rarely know what the date is.  Sometimes I struggle with the day of the week. They’re all pretty much the same.  

Day 452 of being here in the middle, in no man’s land.  I’m not quite ready to go Home, but I’m sick to death of this place.  

Well, it’s been just another fun filled week. I don’t know how much more of this fun I can take.  First I found out a good friend I’ve known for over 25 years, we were in each other’s weddings and he’s been married 15 years, is getting divorced. Then, another very close friend’s mother got ill suddenly and passed on Wednesday.  The next day I get a call saying my Uncle Jack is in the hospital with a brain bleed that is coming out of his nose and he’s been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  He’s in hospice, comatose, waiting for his crossing.

This morning I call my mother to ask how Uncle Jack is doing. That’s when I find out the tumor is malignant and that he’s in a coma. I was thinking about Uncle Jack yesterday. Great guy. Real intellect. A great writer.  We didn’t share the same theology, but we were friends on Facebook, pretty impressive given the fact he was in his 90s at the time. You see, Uncle Jack will be 96 in just a few weeks.  He’s my father’s oldest surviving brother.  As I was contemplating his passing and thinking how it’s another one leaving us, I started to think about it from his perspective. He’s lived a long, full life.  He’s going Home.  Soon, he will see his mother and father again and Aunt ‘Nita, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Walter, and Uncle Karl.  What a homecoming it’s going to be!  

This morning as I was talking to my mother checking in on Uncle Jack we talked about getting old.  My grandmother said a lot of wise things to me. The most simple and most profound I remember her telling me when we were sitting at the kitchen table. I must have been around 16 because I remember her telling me she still had the same mindset she had at 16. She didn’t see herself as an old lady. She was that same girl in the body of an old lady. Then, she said, “If you live long enough, you get old.”  We deny age in our society. We fight the aging process. We not only think we’re going to live forever. We think we are going to be young forever. One of the follies of youth is you will never be the old man you see sitting across from you.  My mother will be 80 in a few weeks. She’s still going strong. She still travels the world.  When I talked to her this morning, she was preparing for a dinner party this evening. She’s cooking for six guests. She told me she is finally slowing down, feeling the effects of her age.  She has arthritis in her back that is limiting how much time she can stand on her feet. But, she said the same thing my grandmother told me back when my grandmother was actually more than a decade shy of my mother’s age. She doesn’t feel old in her mind, just the body.  She’s always talking about how stubborn my Aunt Lil is at 90+, but today for the first time to me anyway, she admitted she will probably be just like her, denying aging.

Uncle Jack has been a fixture in my life for as long as I can remember. If anyone were to tell me their 95-year-old uncle, grandfather, whatever was passing, I would, of course, offer my sympathies, but in the back of my mind I’d be thinking “Dude, he’s 95.  It’s time for him to go.”  But, it’s never time for those closest to us, those who we’ve gotten to know over the course of our lifetimes.  When Elvis died, I was 16 years old.  Elvis was 42. I remember thinking “Why is everybody so upset?”  I loved Elvis, but for me, at 16, Elvis was old.  Now, my Uncle Jack is 95 and I’m not ready for him to go.  I feel for his “kids” (most of whom are older than I am) losing their father.  I guess it’s all relative.

I’ve written many times about how time is my enemy.  I am also mystified by what exactly time is.  It seems intuitively obvious. Things go from past to present to future in an orderly, inexorable fashion. But, physicists and philosophers tell us it’s all an illusion. Afterlife communications tell us everything from there is no time on the “other side” to time is just very, very different there. People who have had NDEs tell us they can’t even explain what time is like there or if there is time.

A couple of days ago I was talking with the aunt of my distant cousin who passed suddenly at 16. She was saying how time for her seems to be stuck, but it’s a good kind of stuck because it keeps Yasmine close in her heart.  Yet, she’s stuck in a very painful place because while Yasmine is in her heart, Yasmine is no longer here with us physically. I can SO relate to this. Wanting to move past the pain, but identifying the pain with holding our loved one close. I was also talking with a father (a father, not a mother- YAY!) whose 3-year-old daughter passed just over a month ago.  He also expressed exactly what I feel. He doesn’t feel right here without her. She was his world. She made this place his home. Without her being here, he feels like he’s not home anymore.  Every day that goes by is one day closer to going Home, but it’s also one day further removed from the last time he saw her, held her, kissed her.  

None of us knows how much time we have left.  Even after living through Shayna leaving so suddenly and unexpectedly and since talking with so many parents who should know we don’t know what tomorrow holds, I find myself being overwhelmed when I think of my future.  I get depressed when I get back into the mode of thinking this physical life is more important than it really is and is way longer than it really is. Time may be my enemy, but Time is also self-defeating. It spends itself as it blocks me from my goal. No matter what happens- good or bad, no matter how well I deal with this or how poor I deal with it, if I thrive or if I just curl up into a ball, time marches on and there is only so much of it before I reach my goal. So bring it on, Time.  I will beat you. 

As my friend Roberta Grimes is apt to say, I am as psychic as a post. I have no psychic ability whatsoever, but I’’m fascinated by all things psychic.  Recently I began taking a course to raise my level of psychic perception.  I found it listening to a Podcast and I felt it was something I should do.  The course keeps telling me to trust my imagination/intuition/hunches, all the stuff I’m not good at. I became an engineer for a reason. I like concrete answers. I like reasoning my way to a conclusion.  I have a pretty decent intellect and I rely heavily on it. I’m struggling with the course. They are having me do daydreaming exercises and trying to trust what is coming through is inspired, that it’s spirit connecting with me. The author of the course is corresponding with me and I think I’m making progress, but it’s slow.  Trusting my intuition is something I was never taught to do. Quite the opposite.

Serendipitously, I was listening to an Off The Left Eye podcast recently and they mentioned an episode where they do a metaphysical exegesis of the Adam & Eve story as viewed by Emmanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg is a 18th century mystic who had visions over the course of a few decades. He did metaphysical explanations of many of the Old Testament Bible stories.  The show was over an hour long. I won’t explain it all here, but basically everything in that story, the plants, the animals, the trees, the locations of the trees, Adam, Eve, the snake even the fact that Eve was taken from a rib, has a metaphysical meaning. The gist of the story is that man went from being a being in concert with God, fully dependent on God to know right from wrong to being an independent being trying to determine right from wrong on his own and ending up in a state of confusion. We have become totally reliant on our physical senses (Eve) and our rational mind (Adam) and lost our connection to Source which is our true North. We journey out on our own confused and finally come back around to the realization that we want to and need to rely on Source.   Man was created in naive innocence, gains wisdom, becomes confused and eventually winds up in enlightened innocence. This is the cycle of mankind and of man individually. We are born totally dependent, we know Source, our Third Eye is open. But, we become enamored with the physical. The spiritual is driven out of us.  Eventually, we realize this isn’t working and we seek something else- returning to an enlightened innocence.  (see Enigma’s video Return to Innocence)

I also happen to be reading Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav.  Wow. it’s a really deep book.  What I’ve gotten so far is there is the five sensory man, as Gary calls him. That is the person who relies on what he can sense with his five senses. And there is the multisensory man. The multisensory man sees with his third eye. He has connection to his higher sources like his higher self, his guides, angels and even Source.  Both the five sensory man and the multisensory man receive guidance and help from above. The five sensory man has difficulty discerning this guidance and thinks all his imagining, inspiration, flashes of brilliance, etc. come from himself. The multisensory man knows these things from higher sources, trusts them, seeks them out, works to develop that connection and therefore can make progress through life much more easily.

So, there we have three things coming together in my life at this moment to tell me this is the lesson I should be learning now. A while ago I would not have noticed this convergence of events or if I had I would have chalked it up to coincidence.  But, I’m beginning to see, just a little bit.  There are no coincidences.  Maybe the eye is beginning to open.

I try not to be political on this blog. It’s about my spiritual journey, but today I have to break my rule.  I just had an overwhelming feeling that I need to write this.  

As I was taking my walk on Sunday, I was the only one out. I was up early, as usual.  I walk five miles through a predominantly white neighborhood, my neighborhood. I am always conscious of how I appear. I dress in running clothes and running shoes. I want it to be clear I am out exercising, not loitering or casing homes. I follow all traffic rules. I’m on the sidewalk where there is a sidewalk. I”m on the proper side of the road where there is not a sidewalk.  On school mornings, there are kids walking to the local elementary school. I make sure to steer clear of the kids. I don’t want any 911 calls about a creepy old man approaching school children. Today, though, all is quiet.  No one is out.  Then, I look up and I see a police car coming up the street towards me.  There has been another shooting of an unarmed black man. This one a father of four.  His car broke down in the middle of the road. The cops came. For some reason, they came at him with guns drawn.  What they suspected him of, I have no idea. There is a video. The cops initially reported that he refused to put his hands up. I guess they forgot there was video, because the video clearly shows him with his hands up, before they tasered him and shot him.  All of this runs through my mind as the police car approaches me.  I start to strategize.  If he stops, what do I say?  Do I put my hands up?   Could moving my hands be seen as a threatening gesture?  Do I lie face down on the ground?  Should I wait for a command before moving or should I be proactive in making myself less threatening?  One of the cops was heard saying the father they shot looked like a “bad dude”  Do I look like a bad dude?  As this all goes through my mind, the cop rolls by, waves and moves on.

I posted my experience on Facebook this morning and one of my friends shared it with her friends. One of her friends remarked that not all cops are like that and that more white people are shot by cops than black people. I should learn the statistics and stop being afraid.  I had to inform her about the statistics.

In 2015, The Washington Post launched a real-time database to track fatal police shootings, and the project continues this year. As of Sunday, 1,502 people have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since Jan. 1, 2015. Of them, 732 were white, and 381 were black (and 382 were of another or unknown race).

But as data scientists and policing experts often note, comparing how many or how often white people are killed by police to how many or how often black people are killed by the police is statistically dubious unless you first adjust for population.

According to the most recent census data, there are nearly 160 million more white people in America than there are black people. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.

U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each. But because the white population is approximately five times larger than the black population, that means unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.

BTW, I am ALWAYS unarmed. So, yeah. I know the stats. That’s why I’m scared.

“They told you life is hard
It’s misery from the start
It’s dull and slow and painful

I tell you life is sweet 

In spite of the misery

There’s so much more
Be grateful 

Who do you believe?
Who will you listen to
Who will it be?
It’s high time that you decide” – Natalie Merchant from Life Is Sweet

This weekend I was listening to this song, one of my all time favorites.  In the song Natalie Merchant is trying to convince the person she is speaking to that life is short and sweet and to be grateful.  The person’s parents have told her life is long and hard and dull. Natalie is telling her life is short and sweet.  Which is it? 

Today, I have to  make two phone calls that are extremely uncomfortable. I’m not much of a telephone talker anyway. I have never been much for chit chat.  The telephone is for transacting business, making arrangement. But, these are calls I have to make.

One is a guy who was my best friend for years. We were thick as thieves. We met after our divorces and were young and single again together. He and Tywana and I used to hang out on Friday nights. He moved from Lexington up to this area before we did.  We thought when we moved here the relationship would just continue, but life had other plans for us. He got married and had a kid.  His schedule became full and so did ours, so for years we did that once a year conversation “We have to get together.”, always with the best of intentions, but knowing it wasn’t really going to happen. Finally, a couple of years ago we stopped pretending. He and his wife came to Shayna’s life celebration, but I haven’t seen or heard from him since or for a couple of years before that even though he only lives 45 minutes away. Then, out of the blue, I get a message from him a week ago saying he’s been going through his own shit. I have no idea what that could mean. So, for over a week we’ve been playing phone tag. Today, I am It.  So, I call and tag him. Frankly, I’m a bit relieved when he doesn’t answer. I can’t imagine what it might be that prompted him to call. I’m trying to keep my mind from racing to the worst. I know it’s got to be sickness, death or divorce.  I’m hoping for the best.

The other call I have to make is to my cousin whose 16-year-old granddaughter suddenly transitioned just a couple of weeks ago. She had a rare, undiagnosed blood disorder that turned fatal in just a couple of days. My cousin isn’t doing well, from what I’ve heard. How can she be?  We grew up together in Columbus, but she is a few years older than I am. I haven’t ever spoken to her on the phone. We run into each other at family events every few years. What am I going to say to her?  I try to plan the conversation in my head, but that’s not working. I anticipate long moments of awkward silence or worse, me saying the wrong thing. I’d rather not call.  But I know I have to. The calls I got after Shayna passed meant so much to me.  And I am especially qualified to make this call being a member of the club no one wants to join.

I dial the phone and get her voicemail. Whew!  Dodged that bullet. I leave a message telling her to call me back, if she wishes. Several hours pass then my phone rings.  It’s a number from Columbus that I don’t recognize. It must be her. Yep.  It’s her.  I’m on.  What will I say?

Somehow I get through the conversation. I realize that, as a grandmother, she is experiencing even a different pain than I am.  In addition to missing her granddaughter, she is having to watch her daughter endure what she, as her mother, would like to take away. I tell her about what I believe about our soul plans.  I tell her  that Yasmine is still right here.  I tell her we should be jealous of Yasmine because she is OK.  We are the ones who have the hard road to walk.  And, most importantly, I tell her we will see them again one day and we will know the answers to our questions. I tell her I hope the fact I am here after 14 months serves as an example to let her know she can endure this. And I tell her that I am always here whenever she wants to talk to someone who can understand.  

We are all just walking each other home. Yesterday, a friend who had an NDE shared some wisdom she had gotten from it and one of the NDE people commented on how life isn’t as hard as many people make it.  Her attitude, life is sweet. The song comes back to my mind.   Is life hard or is life sweet?

Bullshit. Life is hard. If it’s not hard for you now, just wait a bit. This Earth school is no joke. Pain is built in.  Yes, suffering is optional. We can learn to deal with the pain, we can learn to keep it in perspective. It’s not easy though.  

I put on my headphones to take my walk and the first line of the Podcast I’m listening to today is "Why is life so hard?”  It’s an exegesis of the story of Adam & Eve.  This post will get very long if I try to break it down here, but suffice it to say it’s what I needed to be reminded of today. It’s not all out of control. This isn’t plan B.  The “fall” wasn’t unexpected or even unintended.  Yes, life is sweet and life is hard.  Like many things, it’s not either-or, it’s both.  Hang in there.  

Kayla came home for the weekend for the first time this school year.  She’s been at college for about a month now, even though it seems longer.  It’d be nice to think she came home because she misses us, but she came home so that she could get her hair done.  Oh, well.  Whatever works. Right? 

Kayla and I always have a great time when she’s here, but I’m finally coming to the realization that the days of the girls living here are over. She’s a visitor now.  She spends more time away from our house than here. When our kids grow up, we have to accept they are going to grow away from us, too.

We go to a going away party for a friend’s daughter. She’s an only child and is very close with both her father and her mother. They still spend a lot of time together as she still lives in Cincinnati only about 20-30 minutes from where they are. But, she’s met a young man and is getting married and moving slightly farther away.  Well, maybe a lot farther away- Switzerland. At the party, her mother tells us that if we see a new river in Cincinnati, it will a river of her tears.  I talk with her father and give him my sympathy.  He reminds me that he and his wife left their parents to move across the ocean when they came to America.  Yeah, but us leaving our parents isn’t the same I tell him.  Our babies aren’t supposed to ever grow up.

Kayla tells us a story about her boyfriend. They are talking about affection in their respective families of origin. Kayla tells him that we kiss and hug her every night and tell her that we love her.  He looks at her with amazement.  “Even when you’re not leaving?  Even when they’re going to see you the next day?”  Yeah, every day. 

Today, Kayla will go back to school.  I’m not sure when she’ll be home again.  If the hairstyle holds up, it might be a while. Here’s hoping it doesn’t hold up.

p.s.- weird happening- the ceiling fan light continues to come on, on its own, randomly. This morning I wake up about 6:30, my usual time. I’ve been taking a course on getting in touch with images, sounds, thoughts, impressions that come into my mind. I wake to see an image of Shayna at around age 7, toothless, smiling at me.  I’m just there in that state halfway between sleep and being awake and thinking about Shayna when the light on the ceiling fan comes on at 6:55.  Tywana turns it off. I’m wondering if Shayna is doing this. So I try a little thought experiment. I ask her if she’s doing it to do it again.  Nothing happens. I say “Well, maybe we can do it together.”  So, I focus on making it come on again.  Nothing happens.  Still, it’s very strange that it keeps turning itself on and when we turn it off with the remote, it just goes right back off.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Is it just me who has struggled with this passage?  What are you saying, Jesus? For me, the last several years have been very stressful financially.  In this world, you have to work to survive.  You not only have to work, you have to produce.  I went into sales in 1986.  I haven’t had a 100% salary job since then. I went on 100% commission in 1997.  That was the last time I had a salary. I cashed my last commission check in 2004.  I have been on my own since then. Every year I’ve wondered if I could keep it up for one more.  

This world is a grind. I can’t sit back and wait for God to clothe and feed me. I might be more precious than the sparrow, but the sparrow eats worms. The sparrow doesn’t have a mortgage and a wife and a daughter who still needs college tuition.  I’ve always been spiritually minded. I’d love to be able to seek the kingdom of heaven full time. But, kingdom seeking doesn’t pay all that well.  Grinding is required to keep this body in this world.

The last several years of the business have been even more of a grind. It feels like I’m running in place. Like Egypt in Joseph’s dream, we had years of plenty now being followed by years of lean. Fortunately, we put a lot away. No matter what I do I can’t seem to break through to that next level.  Things break. The refrigerator stops working.  The car needs new brakes.  The furnace is 18 years old.  Will it make it another year?  It probably won’t. They told me three years ago it was in its last year.

I was talking with a bereaved mother a couple of days ago and we were talking about how we find ourselves in this in-between place often feeling more a part of the next world than this world. This body is a drag.  I spend most of my energy and time taking care of it.  My worries aren’t about spiritual things, the important things, the things of permanence.  My worries are, in spite of Jesus’ words, what will I eat, what will I drink, how will I clothe myself?  How do I make this business last until Tywana and I are ready to retire?  How do I leave her with enough money?  I’d like to do “spiritual” things all day- long walks, meditation, writing, encouraging others, working out. But, there are only so many hours in the day and taxes are due, as my accountant keeps reminding me.  Every time I think about taxes, I’d rather die than face doing them again.

Oh well, I do have enough to eat for today. I’ve got clothes to wear. The mortgage is paid. The tuition is taken care of.  I’m seeking the Kingdom. So, maybe all these things have been added to me and I just need to take Jesus’ advice and stop thinking about tomorrow.  After all, he did go on to say:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

I have a good friend who is really into enneagram typing.  She’s been doing it for years, has a certification and everything. She offered to type Tywana and I for free many months ago (probably over a year). Finally, we got around to doing it.

I’m not much for type tests.  I attended a church where the Meyers-Briggs thing was huge. People would walk around saying “I’m an INFP”, the response would be “I’m an INPJ.”  And, that was all you needed to know about that person.  I’ve never liked being put into a box. I struggle with personality tests. When given the choice of two scenarios, my first thought is usually “It depends”. Sometimes I like to be around people. Sometimes I like to be alone. “Would you rather go to a party or sit at home and watch a movie?”  Well, how about we go to the party for a while, then watch a movie?   I’m not particularly adventuresome, but I do like learning new things.  When asked how others perceive me, I wonder because I am many different things to many different people. I think some people probably see me as pretty friendly, but a lot of people think I’m aloof and intimidating.   And I’m nothing like I was 25 or 30 years ago. The people I went to high school wouldn’t even recognize me today.  

The enneagram divides people into 9 different types with strong influences from other types.  I turn out to be a type 9 with influences of type 1 and type 8.  OK, I read the type 9 description and that kind of fits me, but there are elements of the other types that seem to fit pretty well, too.  Then, Deb tells me that one of the traits of type 9s is we tend to think we are all of the other types. So, yeah, I guess I am a type 9.  

Last night as I was reading “The Seat of The Soul”, the author made a distinction between personality and the soul.  A whole person, as I understand it, will have his personality aligned with his soul. This brings to mind something I have been wrestling with for several years.  Some of us feel like we were born into the wrong family, the wrong culture, even the wrong time. There is something about our souls that wants to be one way, but everything and everyone around us wants us to be another way. Humans are amazingly adaptable animals and we quickly learn to give people what they want so we can get what we want and need from them.  Socialization isn’t just a nicety, it’s  a matter of survival. We have to please people not only so life is pleasant, but so that we can earn a living.  As we mold our personalities to fit what they want, we give up on who we truly are, who we are at our souls level. Some of us hit a dark night of the soul which can last years or even decades as we realize we are not being who we really are, who we really want to be.

Over the last couple of decades, I have been trying to align more with who I really am.  It freaks some people out. And even after all of these years, I realize that I’m not there yet. I struggled to answer some of Deb’s questions on the typing test, wondering if I should ask from the way I act or the way I feel like I really am.  Should I answer the way 20-year-old Brian was- is that the real me? Or, should I answer the way 55-year-old Brian would- the me I’ve become?

Deb left me with a book that describes the types and it’ll probably help me understand myself a little better and maybe understand Tywana a little better.  I do know I want to be the type who is truly who I am supposed to be.