Two Strips of String Cheese

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There have been many times in my life where I’ve been food insecure for whatever reason. [Couch surfing, ditching an abusive husband, barely making ends meet with 12 hour days] By default, I find myself counting and re-counting the dollars I have to spend at the grocery store. I’m hyper aware when dollars go missing from my pocket.

At the grocery store this evening, as I browsed the produce section, I noticed a young man whom looked a LOT like my friend Rocky. Hair, gait, style of clothing, even the way he was talking aloud to himself reminded me of Seabuurd. He also looked quite distraught.

“Are you okay? You seem upset.” I asked.

“Yeah, I just…I just lost $10 somewhere on the floor. I’m retracing my steps.” he replied.

“Well I sure hope you find it.” I continued on my way giving a short glance around the area hoping I’d be the hero that found the missing currency.

A few aisles later, I see the young man again.

“Any luck?”

“No. Someone probably found it already. I really needed that.” He fruitlessly searched the barren floor.

“I’ll keep a look out.”

“Thanks.”

I checked my pocket where I only had $7 left until Friday evening. I decided if I saw him again, I’d give him the dollars. I headed to the pharmacy area to see if they had an OTC sling to put my arm in because my shoulder is really jacked up right now. As I searched the pharmacy shelves, I heard a loud ruckus coming from the checkout part of the store.

Three women were taunting the young man with the $10 they found in the aisle. At first he started to explain himself, but they kept on going. Bragging about their good fortune loud enough to be heard, literally, half-way across the store. The other patrons joined in to defend the young man, but the young women just wouldn’t let it go. Finally, the young man, nearly in tears tells the women that he hopes they get pulled over and have to use his money to pay the fine.

Not finding what I need, I head over to the checkout lane. I select the one with a high school friend of mine as the cashier. As I approach her, I ask what all the noise was about. She tells me the story. While she’s talking I look over my shoulder where the Rocky looking young man is packing his groceries into bags. He’s obviously shook up. I reached into my pocket and gave him my dollars.

“It’s not the full $10 bucks, but it’s closer than you were.” I smile at him. At first he refused, but my high school chum tells him to take it.

“She won’t quit. You’re better off taking it.” She tells him.

“Oh, well do you like string cheese?” He asked me with sincerity. “Here have a piece.”

He gave me a piece which I peeled at the register and we ate together in the middle of the checkout line. “Have the rest of it.”

“Nah, I’m good. I can’t eat too much of that.”

“Please take a couple pieces at least.” He offers them earnestly to me. I accept and put them into my grocery bag. At that moment a tall well-dressed man enters the store, walks up to the young man with his hand extended.

“I approached them in the parking lot and asked for the money back. At first they were all about keeping it, but I told them I’d call the police because they were assholes. They gave it up.” He chuckled richly.

“Aw, man! Thanks, dude!” The young man reached into his pocket, retrieved the dollars I’d given him, attempted to return them to me.

“No. I already gave it to you, they’re yours. You now can pay it forward better.” He looked astonished. He kept telling me what a beautiful human I am. Even as I walked away from the counter he was continuing his praise.

You may or may not believe me about this, but I do stuff like this all the time. I don’t do it for the compliments or praise. I’m not even telling you this story for positive feedback.

I’m telling you that when you do something equally as kind, it spreads like a California wildfire. When you put yourself out there by an act of kindness bigger than the moment, you’re doing what you are born to do. You’re born to shine. You’re born to be the beacon of hope, love, and joy in this ridiculously cruel world. You get to be the hope someone sees by your actions. Like lighting your candle off your neighbor’s at the Christmas eve candlelight service, it spreads love.

Preaching all day long does nothing but give you a sore throat. ACTIVELY living loving is a practice in mindfulness; a revolutionary awareness of the world around you. It is a true mark of courage to be the light in the darkness. It is a badge of honor to set aside some wants you have (like giving up my breakfast tomorrow morning) to give someone else that light. I’ll keep doing what I do, regardless if you follow my lead or not, but we should practice this kind of radical kindness every day.

Mem’ries

monopolytennessee

The crescent moon tilts slightly

against the indigo sky

through the shadows, I move spritely

with unbidden tears I cry

I trudge the road less traveled

My warmest sweater unraveled

So I shiver in the gath’ring storm,

grief overwhelming, I MUST mourn

As daylight breaks the night

I allow my feet quick purchase in the light

A haven ahead affords me rest

I am given respite at my behest

Home is where I’m going to be

If only my mem’ries weren’t in Tennessee.

Cycle turns

flowergarden

I am an untended garden, riddled with forget-me-nots and weeds

My earth has not been furrowed asunder; tilling life to the topsoil

I have grown fallow, un-supporting of life, but yet, there are some

perennials that cling to a hope of return, of vibrancy dallying

But I can only roll over in my floral nightgown, whimpering in my bed

allowing the blistering son to scorch my once glorious stance

I admit, I’ve become self-watering. I needn’t wait for the gardener

My groans of grief roil the soil, creating bitter roots exposed as lies

Everyone knows that when the earth laughs, people die.

She accepts their bodies back to her world, but I could still breathe

so I am not granted respite from the overabundant fertilizer spewed

over my once lush landscape. But, I will rise, for the weeds can’t hang on

when I forbid grasping of my rooted passion for life. Here she comes

the one that removes the rot with compassionate hands.

Here he comes, the one that scratches that spot in the very middle

She tends to me while singing lightly a childhood song forgotten

He digs deep with his grip, releasing the tainted, blighted plants

She opens the earth to expose me to the warmth of attention

He plants perennial seeds to grow through the coming seasons.

I inhale deeply, knowing that my rebirth will again grow fruitful.

My cycle continues in ample countenance to their loving attention.

I await my own fruition. I will grant only the very best of myself

to create the most beautiful garden I can create. This, is why I weep.

Retreated being

I put on my running shoes
only to find they force retreat
Bluntly I discover by accident
The consistent measure of defeat
Savaged from a life’s cloak torn
Returned to earth from whence born
Finding little comfort from the scorn
Stripped of skin a soul’s been shorn
With little shelter from the storm

I share the flight of winter fowl
Bundled up beneath my cowl
Staring gray in noon time glare
Rejection of my humblest prayer
Reduced, returned, retaliated
Longing for my spirit sated
But that dream has dissipated
Was what I dreamed through joy
A beloved story of girl and boy?
Wake me up so I can breathe
Love and laughter, soothing peace

Cost of Living

Candle of Hope

How much am I worth to you?

Another theater, another school?

Another place where people gather

Out in public, or doesn’t it matter?

How much can I pay you for

your children’s blood on classroom floors?

How much is the fiance’ worth

if she’s wedding before the baby’s birth?

Tell me, because I don’t want your guns

you can keep them, I’m wanting none.

If you collect or if you hunt

I have no interest in killing your fun.

But any sane person should agree

that these “daily” mass killings are a spree

With romanticized violence the law of the land,

as responsible owners, please take a stand.

Show them what it means to be smart

Give us something, someplace to start

 

I don’t want to be afraid to go to the store

become another pawn in this domestic war

If it happens to one it’s a tragedy

but if it happens to more, a statistic you’ll be

Terrorism doesn’t have the brown skin like we’re told

It’s the murderer’s body count, sin chillingly cold.

Do not be afraid

As you are an ocean of tears, so are you a world of forgiveness. A haven of justice filtered through human imperfections that allows opportunity for love with each challenge to your comfort.

You possess free will enough to elect whether you embrace change or if you allow fear to petrify your heart into jaded segments. How can you gaze upon a child’s pain with no desire to make the world innocent for them; for yourself?

It is inevitable that your faithful trust in your brethren will be accosted with confusion or anger towards your generosity. But, the price you pay now, will be small compared to the cost of refusal should you deny your righteous compass.

Turn to your true north, even being different than your friends, to find what makes your spirit, your very essence scream with the ecstasy of rapturous delight. Give permission to yourself to be extraordinarily outstanding in a world that only allows what is nurtured to bloom and grow.

If you find yourself in the forest of darkness with bruised, bloodied, or damaged limbs falling from your own family tree, notice where they’re planted. See how shallow or how deeply those roots linger in the earth by releasing your primal self to its care.

Drink from the knowledge of the river bend that granted your ancestors life to flood your own flesh. Sing in the voice of your grandmother, your grandfather, and those back to the beginning of time’s pacing.

Decree your path without word because what you say can be erased, what you do is how you progress through your life unhindered; calling like-minded to your shores. The shores of the ocean of tears that surrounds your world of forgiveness are yours for the sake of personal redemption.

My friend!

My friends

My friends, not my art

I didn’t believe you because I was sure you were a lie.

Nobody ever gave without expecting something of me.

But there you were with shirt sleeves pulled up to your elbows

Stepping into my dance of horrors with a graceful heart

You expertly guided my feet as I stumbled along behind

While I asked guidance, you answered me with elbows deep in the mire.

You didn’t hesitate. You didn’t stop. You gave without askance.

After the dervish had danced, I drove you home in the night

You didn’t turn into a pumpkin. You hugged me, told me you loved me,

vanished into your home with a step lighter than air.

Again you approached our friendship but I was skittish with fear.

How many times have I placed my faith in trust only for it to disappear?

There you were with jovial laughter, warmest hugs from open arms.

“This can’t be right. This doesn’t make sense.” I argue with myself.

You tell me what you like about me, what I do, who I am.

Nobody has done that without wanting something in return.

(Rarely so).

I test a limit. You laugh. I push a button. You show me the right way.

You get pissed but you work through it like I do, using words and humor.

I feel like I’ve been shown a rare jewel in a crown that belongs to the masses.

I feel as if I may be able to trust this friendship, but I won’t lie

It scares me to allow people near to me because they always leave.

But maybe I can give enough to our friendship where I won’t want to

because of what you’ve already promised with your actions

because of what you’ve already given from your heart.