Unafraid to Beg

For a while I was one of those who heard the latest news of whatever horrific thing had happened on a given day, and for a moment I ached on the inside. But by the next day, a new and tragic occurrence became national news, and the ache of the day before faded and a new one took its place.

However, somewhere along the way, the aching fog ceased to evaporate before the new storm rolled in, and day built upon day built upon taxing, trying day. Slowly yet surely, 2015 has become the year of my broken heart. From mass shootings to suicide bombings, from corrupt politics to religious extremists, from scarcity of resources to lack of access, and to wars on everything from terrorism to drugs to poverty to hunger to women to everything in between and more, something in me has changed.

I have come to the place where I am frightened. I am frightened of what is, what has been, and what is to come. Let me begin by saying that I have been a child begging for candy or toys or ice cream. I have been a teenager begging for extended curfews and gas money and the newest clothes. I have been a grown woman begging for Chanel bags and Louboutins and Tiffany’s diamonds and whatever else is sparkly and shiny and will most definitely make me whole. This time. For sure.

However, I have now experienced the true meaning of begging, and I am ashamed.  I am ashamed of my ignorance and my frivolity and my naivety. I am ashamed for all of those times I’ve said “I’m starving” when really just I hadn’t eaten for 3 hours. For all of those times I’ve moaned “Everything hurts and I’m dying” after leg day at the gym. For the times I’ve whined “I have nothing to wear” while standing in a walk-in closet full of $200 jeans and boots and tops. For every time I’ve groaned “I don’t want to go to work” simply because I’d rather be lounging around at home reading US Weekly and watching HGTV. For every time I said “I’m so broke”, but I am quite certain I bought myself a latte from Starbucks that very same morning. For all of those times I yelled “I can’t take that goddamn noise anymore” when the neighbors were being too loud. And for all of those times I’ve uttered “My parents are driving me nuts” when they are just trying to take care of me or pay for something or help me spread my wings and fly.

I am ashamed.

There are souls out there who don’t know where their children’s next meal is coming from, nevermind how they will quell the sound of their own growling stomachs while standing tall in the face of their little ones.

Or who lost their limbs or sight or faces or genitalia or dignity or lives in minefields and gas attacks and acid throwing and “traditional” ceremonies and hate crimes and for simply having the courage to go to school.

Or who walk miles and miles a day without shoes for the possibility of a bucketful of uncontaminated, “clean” water, but only if the pump is working that day.

Or who would gladly trade a day of hard labor, shredding their hands and burning their skin and dehydrating their bodies, just to send $1.50 to the family they’ve left thousands of miles away in war-torn countries who may or may not be alive on the other end to receive the envelope they purchased with what little change they could spare.

Or who sleep under bridges or next to dumpsters or under bushes to find some warmth or stay out of the rain or to not be a “nuisance” to the fine citizens of the upstanding town they love but in which will never feel welcome.

Or who fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning and walk through the streets of their cities to a soundtrack of bombs and artillery and screams of the dying and sobs of the barely surviving whose loved ones will never hold them or be held by them again.

Or finally, who were left on doorsteps or thrown out with the trash or kidnapped by strangers or ripped from their homes and may never have parents to know or to love as they are herded from home to temporary home to be shamed, abused, and scarred until the world kicks them out of a broken system into a mere existence, not a life.

For the majority of my life prior to this moment in time, my upper middle class upbringing indirectly ingrained in me that begging was undignified. It required a lack of pride, a lack of self-respect, and a lack of work ethic. This was never explicitly stated in my household or taught in school, but rather in society’s judgments and prejudices and merciless impositions.

And yet today, I have come to understand the true meaning. Dictionary.com defines “to beg” as “to ask for as a gift, as charity, or as a favor; to ask (someone) to give or do something; to implore”. To me this definition only a fragment of the story. It is lacking a necessary, critical piece.

To those who have truly had to beg, you know that begging does not simply mean to ask. It comes with a sensation that overcomes your whole being mentally, emotionally, and physically. Begging comes with an ache, a throbbing, an excruciating pain deep within not your chest, not your heart, but from within your very SOUL, and you cannot come back from it. To beg comes with a searing need for the most basic good, which should be so easy, so simple, and yet is being withheld for no obvious reason. One that feeds into a circumstance so unfathomable that it shouldn’t exist at all… but there it is in front of you, around you, within everything you see and feel. When every cell in your body, every inch of your skin, every fiber of your being is silently screaming for someone, anyone, to help relieve the unnecessary burden that has become our world, then you will know what it truly means to beg.

So it is with a heavy broken heart, a cloak of humility, and an ocean of tears in my desperate eyes that I beg.

I beg for peace.

I beg for kindness, for goodness, for compassion.

I beg for wisdom, for mindfulness, for patience.

I  beg for courage, for acceptance, for generosity.

And above all, I beg for you to join me.

Begging for Peace

12 Put on then… compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other…14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. – Colossians 3:12-14
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When It Floods…

You know those weeks when hardly anything goes right, nothing comes easy, and frankly, everything just kind of sucks? This was one of those weeks.

Like Thursday. Ohhhh yes, let’s talk about Thursday. A shining, pretty little example of the week in general. Before I get into details I want to establish that the week was one of those – and I know we’ve all had these – with too much to do and nowhere near enough time, energy, and patience to get it all done. Think on that for a second, and have a little sympathy. Now, that means that I needed to get into the office early. But lo and behold, the first time I slept through my alarm in all of 2013 happened to be, you guessed it! THURSDAY. Up, ready, and out the door with time to spare, but a girl’s got to eat, right? Of course this means a pit stop at Pete’s for Simply Oatmeal and Genmai Cha tea. (Sidenote: If you haven’t tried that tea, go do it. Classic Japanese green tea with roasted popped brown rice sounds weird, but it smells and tastes amazing.) Of course, the line is long and takes forever. I still get into the office early, but later than anticipated, and in general, I don’t enjoy inhaling my breakfast at my desk while trudging through email.

So then the day takes off, and it’s one thing after another flying in to push back all of the things I really have to do, like prepare for that speech I have to give to the higher-up’s advisory council and that huge presentation I have to give tomorrow and, oh yeah, that highly anticipated workshop I’m so glad I came up with two months ago that I felt was SUCH a great idea, and all the students I’m supposed to see in between. That means that even though I woke up to one of those days where I’m so constantly hungry that I’ve turned into an insatiable beast, I already know that a lunch break is out of the question. Good thing I brought the leftover Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya that I was SO looking forward to… dropping straight upside down on the floor with a huge splat, not a single bite or ounce of integrity salvageable from the steaming ruined pile. And as luck would have it, as I’m a sniffling (read: crying at work) hunched-over mess in the middle of a main office thruway trying to clean up the disaster, an employer recruiting our students walks by. And so does an intern. The look of pity from the former and a confused look of awkward terror from the latter later, I’m left sans lunch with zero pride and no time to get a replacement  as I head back to my office to shut the door and sob while attempting to type and squint through tears at this stupid PowerPoint that’s ruining my life. If that weren’t enough, I’ll spare you the gory details of the extra hour I stayed late, the painful and emotional conversation, the unexpected dropping of money, and the changing of every stoplight in town just before I got to it when all I want is to JUST GET HOME that occupied the rest of the day.

Instead I’ll just tell you that right at the moment when I had absolutely HAD IT and fruitlessly started yelling at the asshole tailgating me in the middle of my small town just to take my anger out on somebody (ANYBODY), I also realized something else.

I realized, “This is water.”

This was water.

This is, was, and always will be… water.

If you don’t know what I mean, please watch the this video created by TheGlossary.com and inspired by a speech given by novelist David Foster Wallace:

For me, on this ugly Thursday, the realization that this was water cleared the way. All of a sudden I was able to remember the parts of my day that weren’t that bad, and oh yeah, the parts that were actually… GOOD.

The part where my husband showed up at the office with a plate of fish tacos to let me eat and work through lunch and our dog to get me to smile (if only just a little).

The part where an unprompted coworker told me I was rocking it, despite feeling like I was trudging through quicksand while trying to beat the deadlines.

The part where I actually had a job at which to have a bad day.

Or how about my favorite part, when I finally walked through the door to my home to find it warm and comforting, with pot roast and vegetables simmering on the kitchen counter, filling every room with their smell, and with the gentle humming of washer and dryer filling the silence upstairs. Indy was sitting on the couch, happy to see me. Bill came tearing down the stairs, a smile and humble pride at figuring out the Crockpot all over his face.

The funny thing about water is that the more you thrash and kick and fight it, the faster you sink. But if you stop struggling and just feel it, eventually you’ll float back up to the surface. So that begs the question… Are you going to let it all come flooding in to surround you and fill your lungs so you drown? Or are you going to stop focusing on the shit, and see the beauty and the peace and the calm lying just beyond the surface?

Your choice, love. Your choice.