Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No-Brainer... No Glass Slippers

Smart Women Don’t Wear Glass Slippers
 Beguiling, beautiful, and bewitching in her every manner, Prince Charming could not believe his luck meeting Cinderella, the fairy-tale princess who arrived unexplained at the ball. They danced through the night. She was light on her feet, and light with her wit. Charming and Cinderella spent hours dancing and had eyes for nobody else in the kingdom.
Charming was jolted out of his dismay at having to attend yet another ball in search of a match for him. He had danced with, spoken with, and been bored out of his mind with every available lass within a fortnight’s ride of the kingdom. Beauties they were, light on their feet they were, rich and well bred they were, but when it came to brains, each of them fell short. Several couldn’t even read. Most could not converse beyond the insipid gossip that hovered like flies from kingdom to kingdom.
Charming was surprised that not only was Cinderella beautiful, but she also was articulate, well-read, and interested in the social concerns of residents of the realm. Cinderella had a particular interest in the practice of near-slavery under which most servants were held. She and the prince shared stories they had heard and discussed ways to ensure fair working conditions for all servants in the kingdom, especially those who were poor relations with no other home except the one in which they were kept in conditions similar to prisons.
Charming kept his rapt attention on Cinderella’s every word. The two of them discussed social reforms regarding servants and poor relations. They also discussed the current state of agriculture and how best to tend the land so that all members of the kingdom would be fed.
The clock struck midnight and aghast, Cinderella ran to the door. Charming had no idea why she felt the need to escape so suddenly. The ball would last long past midnight. As Cinderella disappeared down the palace’s marble steps, one of her shoes slipped off her foot. In moments she was gone. Charming was beyond disappointed, because he had no way to contact her. As he glanced down the steps, he saw Cinderella’s shoe. He ran down the stairs, knowing he wouldn’t be able to catch her but nonetheless wanting a memento of the evening and perhaps a way to find her by matching her lost shoe to the one she still had.

Charming knelt down, picked up the tiny shoe, and held it in his palm. He had a puzzled look on his face. “This is made of glass,” he said. “Why would any sensible, intelligent woman ever wear shoes made of glass? I guess she wasn’t so bright after all.” He tossed the shoe into the shrubbery, turned, and walked back up the stairs.

Note: The purpose of the preceding writing exercise was to come up with a twist on a fairy tale. I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Bitch Is Out to Get You

The Bitch Is Out to Get You
Deserve It or Not
Have you been cheated? Lied to? Taken advantage of? Used and abused? Most of us can answer, “Yes.” Often, when we bemoan our miseries, someone is apt to say, “He/she will get theirs. Karma is a bitch.”
“Karma is a bitch.” We hear and read the phrase in response to bad behavior foisted on a family member, friend, or worse, on ourselves. Vengeance and its ramifications seem sweet when I consider karma and how it will be a bitch to the person who “done me wrong.” However, if karma really is the bitch of such renown, I first ask myself, “What did I do to deserve karma’s visit to my life?” When Bad Person B does something to me, I must be Bad Person A because karma got me first.
“But, but, but,” you protest, “I didn’t do . . . I don’t deserve . . . It’s not fair . . . ” Karma, unfortunately, is the bitch who doesn’t play fair. If karma played fair, then the innocents of our world wouldn’t experience so much pain and suffering. If karma played fair, natural disasters would single out only unfaithful lovers, muggers, and those who run Ponzi schemes. Religious tolerance and intolerance aside, please don’t tell me about that former life nonsense. The life you are living is your current one.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wrap up all the bad stuff and tie it into a package labeled “Karma”? It would be convenient because we could always use “If, then . . .” logic to explain away each of life’s events. Rabbi Harold S. Kushner explained our quandary about the origin of bad “karma” in eloquent terms in his book, When Bad Things Happen to GoodPeople. As much as we want an explanation for all life events, many cannot be explained. As much as we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones by using cause-and-effect logic, we cannot always do so. And as much as we want to believe that there is an inherent order to life, we’re wrong; our universe, as orderly as it is in some respects, allows for chaos.
Recognizing that chaos and the random nature of bad deeds cause much suffering frees us by taking away blame when innocent people are hurt. It also frees us from judgment and the sordid delight we claim when someone gets his or her just desserts.
You might be feeling like life, morality, good deeds, kindness, and compassion are pointless endeavors in a world that’s chaotic and random. Not so. Most compassion, generosity, and love you share will be returned to you. Just be grateful when you receive such gifts, and rather than thanking karma, thank the person who was compassionate, generous, and loving.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I Won't Tell You I'm Honest

Cracked Grace
I Won’t Tell You I’m Honest
Even Though I Am (Most of the Time)
“I’m a person of honesty, integrity, and have high values.” I am suspicious whenever someone lets me know right away how honest he or she is. I wonder whether they’re trying to convince me or convince themselves.
It’s such a cliché, but a person’s actions mean much more and speak much more than their words. I would never tell someone how honest I am. I would never tell someone I have integrity. I would never tell someone I have high values. Why? First, I haven’t felt it necessary to do so and in case I did, I would hesitate. I have lied on occasion. I haven’t always had the highest integrity in my dealings with others. I have high values in my mind, but I don’t always behave in a manner that reflects those high values.
I’m imperfect. I don’t announce that, either (except in this context). I also don’t announce my positive traits, often because I’m busy trying to convince myself that I have them. I’m not particularly humble about my positive qualities, it's just that I know I’m evolving. Today, I might not be as truthful, or show integrity in the best ways, or act with my highest values in mind. Tomorrow I will try to do better with honesty, with integrity, and with living my values. That will take honesty, integrity, and acting on my highest values.