Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Choosing Action

So one thing that training provides one is focus - and lessons.

In training on Sunday Soke made the following statement:

"Once you begin an action, you must think five or six steps ahead to its completion.  And once you choose an action you must continue to move through it to completion.  But you must move - once you attack you must continue until you defeat the enemy."

It got me to think a great deal about drive and action.

I am not, by nature, a driven person.  I tend to drift along with flow, happy to engage with whatever is going on at the moment.  In some ways, this is a reasonable philosophy to hold.  If I am in a regular environment, I tend not to worry about things.  I can easy change plans or priorities as the circumstances dictate.  And generally that is a good thing.

I am not, however, as good at accomplishing things longer term.  In fact, I am generally pretty bad at it.  Which is a bit of an issue if you actually want to move certain things forward in your life.

I am not very good at strategy.  I am not terribly good at creating a plan.  And I am certainly not good at following up on said plans.

But Soke's statement made me think. Because Iai is, after all, really about life.

I understand the concept he was trying to communicate.  Once an action is begun you cannot end at that action.  You have to have the next attack or next block thought.  But one has to remain fluid; once a series of actions has begun, it can become like a cascade - one has to continue down the line of attack or defense one has chosen.  And always, one must keeping attacking, keep moving, until the opponent is defeated.

I am not really good at any of the points, but I am especially bad at the last one.  I start and stop things in spurts.  Which is never really the way to get anything done of course.

It comes back to that thing I hate to do of course, commit.  To commit is choose something - and not choose something else.

But it becoming relatively clear, if for no other reason than the theme that keeps reappearing in my life, that this is a step that I need to start taking.

Choose one action, then choose a dozen more.  Always keep moving.

But choose.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Iai Training

Today started the week of Iai training.

Oddly enough, this is not something I could have imagined doing before I started Iai.  A whole week of vacation spent, dedicated solely to the purpose of a hobby which brings me personal pleasure but seemingly does little else to advance my life.

What a luxury.

My legs are spent tonight of course; 5 hours of training plus an 8K run in the morning will do that to a person.  And the next 5 days promise to be much of the same.

Yet I welcome it.  For a week, all of the issues of my life, all of the problems and small time emergencies that consume so much of the waking part of my life, get to be pushed aside while I immerse myself in 430 years ago when the sword was king.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Rise Of The Delegator

I have come to understand that the last failure mode of any human association or organization is the rise of the Delegator.

Any association, any endeavor is in the beginning started by Doers.  These are the people that make things happen, that start things, that are not only cognizant of the fact that decisions must be made to accomplish things but have the decisiveness and fortitude to make them. When faced with a choice, they make it.

And things move forward.  And the endeavor grows.  And perhaps experiences success.  But ultimately the Delegator arrives.

The Delegator is chiefly known for two things.  The first is their inability to make a decision.  They will dither and worry and avoid making a decision as long as possible, either in the hopes that someone else will make the decision for them or that the need for the decision will pass.  Action may be called for – but the Delegator will stand to the side until they are forced into a corner.

The second item of identification is their very name.  They delegate.

They delegate the grunt work of the actual day to day operations.  They delegate the work of setting things in motion.  They may delegate the day to day management of things. They hold actual power and recognition to themselves but push the work to get that power and recognition to others.

What does this do?  It saps the drive and initiation from any organization.  Work for a Delegator, work with them, and one rapidly loses any sense that one’s work or effort leads to anything.  Decisions that must be made are never made – and if one takes the initiative and makes the decision more often than not one is either criticized or told that in fact that belongs to the realm of others.  Of the Delegator.  

Instead, one finds one’s self quietly pushed into the silences of silos, reliant on the Delegator to provide direction which often never seems to come.

Where does this leave one?  Ultimately with a stark choice.  Choose the path of least resistance and ride the organization or association down with those that will make no decision.


Or be different.  And do not delegate one’s future to one who delegates.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Return Of Sorts

So today I returned back to a part of Old Home, to the places that The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I lived when we first got married.  It is a fortuitous occurrence in this week of our wedding anniversary.

It is an odd thing, traveling the highways and roads that I traveled 23 years ago when we first got married.  As I write this, I sit in the same town where we first lived when we got married.  I had dinner 5 doors down from the print shop that I worked at then.  The print shop is gone, replaced by some other business, but the streets still remain the same.

A flood of memories invoked themselves unasked, in some ways memories from a time long passed.   Before children.  Before my career field that I am in now.  Before so many things of the things that figure into our lives even existed.  In some ways a very very different me.

But not a me I would necessarily change.

So many different paths over the years, so many chances to chose another course that led somewhere else or to something else.  Occasionally I wonder what those paths might have been.

I find myself content.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

23rd And Me

So this weekend was our 23rd Wedding Anniversary.

That surprises me, just a little bit.  Not so much the fact that it is 23 years - good heavens, I had no real conception of how long we would make it in the first place - but on people's reaction.

I posted a short comment and picture on Facebook, mostly about the dinner and only (I thought) coincidentally about our anniversary.  I received a great deal of support and like and comments and "reactions" (whatever those are supposed to be).

My first thought was "Is 23 years really that rare?"

It does not feel like some kind of worked for accomplishment, not like trying to lift a caber and turn it or the constant worry about if a garden will take.  In a way, it was just sort of showing up - and continuing to show up.

It is not like I think people imagine it would be.  There are bumps in the road.  Long periods - sometimes years, it feels like - of lingering issues that seem to hang around.  And perhaps it is a common complaint, but marriages of this length are scarcely like those of the movies.

I still midlife crisis every now and then, of course. As I alluded to earlier,  sometimes it feels like everything is the same - and will continue to be same, time without end.  The exotic allures, the course of "freedom" beckons.

And then goes away, of course.  There are commitments to keep and bills to pay and children to be responsible for and pets that need attention.  That is the nature of this life, and certainly I have been around enough to grasp that most of what I see is only the side I want to see, not the side as it actually is.

And there are compensations, of course.  I wish I was conscious of all of them.  But one, I think, I now know:  most people think that you sticking with it is something special.

And perhaps that is not all a bad thing.



Monday, May 23, 2016

Lightning Storm

Last night and early Sunday morning, driving through New Mexico, we came across a lightning storm in the distance.

It originally started as a small set of distant flashes that was noticeable; as we got farther from the last town the sky really began to light up to the northeast.  Sheet lightning in a night so dark you could not make out the clouds until the lightning cast the outlines and the shadows the clouds.  Strikes in a night that you could see the entire bolt hit the ground in a blazing outline, sometimes so bright and accurate that the lightning seemed pour out its fury on the ground, at other times to to curl around itself as it went down.

On and on it went, sometimes continuing on faster pace, with strikes and sheet lightning alternating lighting up the sky almost to the point of  brightness, other times the strikes few and far between, illuminating the darkness like a piercing flickering candle.  As we continued to drive we steered around the edge of the storm, pacing it for a good two hours through the changing landscape and descending elevation until we finally passed beyond its edge and into the general clouds beyond.

At one point, looking over the New Mexico terrain that sloped down and then up into the distance, I saw a single light sitting in the middle of the pool of darkness that was the ground.  That was the place to be, I thought.  Living out beyond anyone else, just sitting on the porch at night and watching the lightning light the sky and the ground in turn.

I am not ultimately sure what that says about me and my desire for aloneness and beauty.  What I do know is that in that time I found a piece of my soul dancing in between heaven and earth, descending and rising on the bright flashes on a dark night.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Reorganization 2.0

So today we went through another corporate reorganization.

I was not caught in the major reorganization, which was significant.  But I was caught in a minor one, which was significant enough for me.

I have changed reporting structures again.  The dual form of reporting up was not working, so there is a new single line of communication - essentially what we had for almost 7 years until about a month ago.  That system worked, apparently - just not with me.

There has been a "leveling".  I have been stripped of 3 of my 4 team members, who are now reporting on equivalent level up - a team I have spent 7 years building.  My job responsibilities, while not quite redefined, are shrinking in scope to well under half of what they used to be.  And instead of reporting directly to The Head, we are all reporting to a Subhead who reports to The Head.

I have, in other words, been practically demoted.

I am not happy.  I have indicated this, both to The Head and to The Subhead.  I am essentially capped:  I am precisely one level below The Subhead so the chances of moving up are rather limited.  Even more so arguably, as with reduced areas of responsibility come reduced abilities to make the sorts of impressions and do the sorts of work that get the sorts of attention that makes such things possible.

Everyone is sympathetic, of course:  of course we understand, it is for the betterment of the company, there will more opportunities for growth and expansion, do not feel like you have been put aside, it is really for the better.  You are doing a fantastic job, keep up the good work, and we are 100% behind you.

I am really, really trying not to be bitter about this.  Really.  It would be lying to say it is not hard - except I have no-one to direct the bitterness at.

There is little enough to do about the situation, of course:  what is done is done and to be anything less than 100% supportive will brand you in ways not good to consider.  On the positive side, I am still employed.

But all that echoes in my mind is the ringing sound of echoes getting closer as the potentialities of my current position - and perhaps my career - shrink in like an old volcano sinking in on itself, leaving only a crumbling cones and broken lava tubes to mark its passing.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Memories and Images

Sometimes I wonder what has happened to others.

It used to be quite a mystery, of course: people would leave our own circle of living, leave our own geographic area, and then would disappear off the face of our known earth.  Perhaps we would hear of them from a friend of a friend or a relative, but they had effectively moved beyond our own orbit.  We might picture where they were or what they were doing, how their lives had gone.

Now, of course, we have the Internet.  And Facebook and Linked In and 40 other ways to keep in touch with other people.  And yet, I still find myself wondering what has happened to others.

Oh, I can find them of course.  They will pop up as soon as you search for them.  But all it is now is a carefully crafted image, what one wants everyone else to see.

To be fair, I do this as well.  My "On-line presence" (sounds so official) is in some ways very different from the way I would present myself in my more personal space.  Part of it is essentially image management - after all, everybody (including your company) can find you now.

But the mystery is gone, in a way.  No longer does one wonder where those others are or what they have done.  It can easily be found out - or rather, the image can be found out.    But them, who they were or who they are, has become submerged beneath that image.

Which makes it sadder, in a way.  Before one had to imagine.  Now one has the outer image without the core.

It strikes me as strange that in this world of interconnected technology, we find ourselves more isolate dfrom such memories than we perhaps ever thought possible.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Drained II

An epiphany of sorts today.

I realized, as I sat at my desk balancing visitor after visitor with requests for information or questions and e-mails clamoring for attention amidst coming and going to meetings, that I simply do not have the energy to maintain this sort of working life.  I have no time to recharge.

I am, by every test I have ever taken, an introvert - so much heavily so that I almost always top out the chart.  This surprises some people when they see me interacting in social settings - I can be witty, personable, engaging - the life of the party.  This works, as I have come to understand, because that is not a taking of energy by others but exchanging of energy with others.

But what I am doing in my workday now is completely different.

Everyone has a need.  Everyone has a question.  Everyone wants something from me - if not in person, then via e-mail.  This has become my day, a steady stream of individuals coming with questions or requests.  They are most good natured about it of course, and I suspect scarcely any of them wish me ill will, but still they come.  And ask.

There is no exchange of energy in these interactions, no building of excitement - just a steady drain of energy as one after another, people come with their needs.

And leave me mentally and psychically exhausted.  Literally.  I have nothing left to give by the time I leave for home.  Add to that a commute approaching an hour or more and then another group of people at home who have a different set of requests and needs for interaction and you can see where this ends up.

I have often wondered over the years why I can stand commuting to the extent that I do.  I truly do not mind the concept of long drives - and now I know why.  It is a small chance to recharge from the daily drainage of energy.  It also explains why I set such aggressive goals at the beginning of year yet always seem to lose steam, or how I can come out of a weekend ready to go and find myself with nothing by Wednesday.  I have given myself time to recharge via vacation or weekend - but the batteries do not have enough regular down time to maintain that level of energy.

What to do about the situation, that is the question.  It is not as if I can wall myself away from everyone (oh, how I wish!) and recharge time seems no more likely to appear now than ever.

But it is the germ of a concept and realization, the fact that I require a more balanced approach to my interactions to pace myself and (really) make myself the most functional me that I can.   People are not going to like it.

On the other hand, I surely do not like the way I feel now and how my life is working out.  Ultimately, that should trump all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Iai On A May Evening

Last night I went out to practice iai.

Yesterday was a Monday, the sort of Monday that has you swearing that you will submit your resignation letter in the first 10 minutes after arrival and never really improves after that.  The sort of Monday filled with meetings that never really seem to resolve anything and a commute that leaves one drained just in time to try to generate something of a personality.

And so I went out to practice iai, increasingly my refuge (along with writing) to maintain my sanity in a life seeming gone not so bad as bland and tasteless, a sort of endless poi dish that one takes day after day knowing it is nutritious but having no other redeeming qualities.

At first I began almost going through the motions, doing the most basic of kata to warm up; then,  I began to notice the world around me.

The sky was that blue-green that almost defies description, the color that only appears right at evening and right before morning, transient as the moment just before sunrise  and just after sunset.  The weather held its coolness from the morning rains with a light breeze, mocking the fact we already halfway through May.

Our yard is exceptionally green this year, an outcome of the rather large amount of rain.   Our new resident hare, Joey (so named by Nighean Dhonn) was out about an evening silfay, cautiously eating the grass while watching me practice.  Fireflies began to pepper the yard, far more than I have ever seen any year since we moved here, their yellow-green luminescence moving in and out as if they were teleporting across space instead of moving through it.

The crickets (or frogs, I am never sure) sang their background chirps as the high pitched squeaks announced the evening bats out for the hor de' oeuvres of the night.  A random toad,  as pale as the concrete he hopped across, appeared out of nowhere   on his way to a rendezvous with a nameless appointment he did not seem inclined to share.

All of a sudden I found myself practicing iai not alone but in the midst of world going on about its business - or rather, kindly welcoming me into its business.  I was no more a stranger to this dance of movement and sound and light than any of the other creatures there.

In a sense, I think it was iai in its most pure form, of being one with nature as one practice the forms, sliding in and out of the fireflies, not alarming the hare, seen as nothing more than a thing of shadows not to be feared by a toad.  The sky in its strange and seldom appearing color reflected the purity of form to which the apprentice always strives:  memorable yet not standing out, unique yet blending into the balance of whole.

I cannot say that this moment made up for the day before.  I can say that it gave a sense of peace and serenity where none previously existed.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

May 2016 Garden Update

So how is the garden doing in May?

You will remember my citrus from last year that were overwintered (with not great results)? Well they are growing:


Even the ones I thought I killed


are showing new life (This is a Mexican Lime.  Apparently they will reproduce from the root stock, one of the few citrus trees that will):


Overwintered (by accident) peppers (Bell and Jalapeno) are growing - if you look down, you can see the peppers:



The garlic is starting to fall over and the leeks are coming up.



Volunteer pumpkins have returned:



And the grain and onions are doing well:





Overall very happy!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Blogger or Wordpress

Greetings to The Fortyfive Nation (all eight of you, anyway)!  I have a global question that I would like to throw out there and see what the feedback is.

Do I stay with Blogger?  Or do I go to Wordpress?

I have been with Blogger since I started blogging in 2005.  Overall the interface is okay and I have had very little to complaint about - except the fact that Blogger is owned by Google, which I sort of do have problems with.

If you have ever had or held a blog, you know the rather daunting task when you are considering creating a new one - let alone updating and migrating the one that you have maintained for any number of years.  It is a pain, I imagine - just updating the links to other people's sites alone is going to be a pain.

But still, I am at the point where I wonder if it is the right thing to do.  Certainly my friend Otis has said his wife's new blog (Saturated In Seattle) has gotten a great deal more traffic since she moved over there.

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Experiences?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Saturated in Seattle

So ordinarily I do not link other stories in place of my own for a posting.  It is a poor blog author that constantly relies on others for their material.

Today is an exception.

My friend Vintage Chick, who has been working on a different sort of blog journey, posted something today that is definitively worth sharing.

You know I do not do politics here and religion as a rule, and this post edges over into that.  But it deserves to be read and considered.

Read the words of someone that can actually write.

Saturatedinseattle



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Available At Your Local Bookstore"

Last week as I was driving around, I heard an advertisement for a book on the radio (small bit of irony right there).  The narrative, driven by dark sounding dramatic music and telling us that the novel was ripped "right from today's headlines" ended with the statement "Available at your local bookstore, Amazon.com or iTunes."

Which made me think  "Local Bookstores?"

I remember the bookstores of my youth.  There were two, beyond the library where we got to check things out.  One was a local, single store in a strip mall (I still have some of those books).  The other was "Citadel of Books".  It was this store that formed my impressions of what a bookstore should be:  Towering shelves of books in pine shelves of varying heights with long rows, wandering up and down the aisles lost in literary wonder.

How times have changed.

I lived through the growth and essentially the death of a medium.  I remember the first time I went to a Walden's books.  "Wow", I thought, "so many books".  Then I went to a Barnes and Noble.  "Wow, it is so big"  I said to myself.  "They must have everything."  And then I went to Borders and had a similar experience.  "Wow, so much more like Citadel of Books"  I said.

But Borders is now gone.  The small independent bookstore of my youth is gone.  All that remains is Barnes and Noble as a new book seller.

I do not really enjoy going in Barnes and Noble at all.  The selection is limited.  The prices are high (stupidly high).  And the atmosphere - green themes with dark brown bookshelves - is hardly the sort of adventure I experienced once upon a time.

I shop the used book stores now.  There is far more of a sense of adventure in finding something that you are looking for or even finding the unexpected - and the prices are a sheer luxury.  Sure, I very seldom get the latest books, but those are (generally) not the books I am looking for.

Or Amazon.com.  Cannot beat the selection and the prices -if you shop carefully - are just as reasonable as a used book store.

(No Kindle or iBooks for me.  I simply cannot enjoy reading on a screen.  I think this may partially stem from having to look at a computer screen all day.  And the fact that the book is an object, a familiar thing I can manipulate and highlight and easily go back to).

A final thought hit me as I rolled the radio station over to something else.  I have seen the bookstores go, first the independents, then the local chains, then the national chains.  Will I live to see the day that, like a beached whale, the last great bookstore chain goes under leaving only ghostly remainders in the form of empty big boxes and the remains of a once thriving industry to be found only in the kiosks of airports?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Accept And Unrealistic Expectations

So now that I have these unrealistic expectations, what the heck do I do with them?

This is the other side of acceptance - not just that one accepts the way that certain things are but that one actively works on the expectations that one was clinging to, that one finds something to do with them.  Because they sure do not seem to want to be dealt with of their own accord.

They constantly speak in your ear, suggesting that you are "surrendering" or "caving in".  They try to push you towards success related literature, pointing out that you are giving up perhaps at the point that success is about to become yours.  Anything, they suggest, except abandoning them to the cold.

I have my own secret weapon, of course.  I call it "Failure".

I have remind these sweet siren singers of the times that I did follow their unrealistic promises down the rabbit hole of dreams, of what happened when the bottom dropped out of the hole and down I fell into the rocks.  Of the countless times as a youth I "fell in love" only to embarrass myself horribly.  Or the time I took a position based on other people telling me that I would be a great leader, only to be a terrible one and leave after half a year.  Or the time I was going to be wealthy as Midas and only ended up losing a great deal of money and eventually having to lose the house we never should have bought.

I bring these failures to the unrealistic expectations and point to them, saying "Look at this.  This is where following you gets me.  Off with you now.  Join forces with those things that I can impact.  Or abandon me to whatever you think my fate will be.  But what you promise will never come to pass."

They always seem to abandon the cause and slink away, of course.  Because if one thing is true of unrealistic expectations, it is that they is that they are very proud and demanding.  They would rather expire than join the energy with those things that can be accomplished.


Monday, May 09, 2016

Accept

Sometimes you come to the realization that there are simply things which you have to accept.

This tears at the fabric of our societal understanding, of course.  We have been taught that we are able to make our own fate, to chart our own course, to turn any situation or circumstance into the one that we desire. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is almost considered a failure to not be able to do such a thing.

But sometimes, the reality is that some things simply cannot change.

Some of these things depend on circumstances beyond our control, things which we can neither directly nor indirectly impact.  Some of these depend on people who will not change, not have we the power within us to make it so.

Either way, the initial realization can be a crushing blow - after all, we interpret the failure to be something caused of our own inabilities, of our weaknesses, of our lack of trying.  We may try to fight this blow by redoubling our efforts.  And perhaps then we try to go to the other side of ignoring the situation, or even acting out against it.  Perhaps we may sink into a depression over it.

And then, one day, we learn to accept it.

Acceptance does not change it, of course.  The situation is still the same.  The relationship is still not what we wanted it to be.  But in acceptance comes the ability to move on.

Maybe the thing will not change.  But let it not be an anchor to weigh us down in the rest of our life.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Commit

I have a long term problem in the practice of my iaijutsu, specifically when I am asked to attack.  I always aim to the side, never directly at the target.

This is something that I have done for  years.  Why, you might ask?   It is a legitimate question.  I carry with me a very old reluctance to risk hurting someone, an aversion acquired many years ago but still as fresh in my mind as it was the day it happened.

And so I aim beside the target, not at the target.

This creates issues for my sensei on two levels.  On the first level, of course, it is very difficult to demonstrate a technique when your attacker is never cooperating in the attack.  The second - the one that just entered my awareness tonight - was a frustration with me, or rather a frustration with the fact that I have studied for almost 7  years and still am reluctant to strike.

"Commit"  he said tonight as I once again moved my attack to the right.  All of a sudden, that word became one of the profoundest things I had heard in years.

Commit.  Drive out all doubt.  Drive out all extraneous things.  Drive out the hesitation and reluctance.  Commit.  Strike.  Cut with authority.

Understand the profoundness of this moment.  Not just in iai.  In life.  Choose - we cannot all do everything.  And then when you have chosen, act with authority.  Remove doubt from your mind.  Strike every time as if you mean to win.

I am not sure that I know what enlightenment feels like.  But tonight I received a very dim taste of it.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Silence

The bridge hangs,
suspended over the gorge,
cables twanging in the rushing air.

You walk forward,
eyes trained on the other side,
carefully ignoring the yawning gap beneath you.

In the center you stop and look up:
the azure blue sky speaks a tale of peace,
the clean warmth of clouds above the spires.

And then it happens:
The high pitched snap of cables
coming undone.

And at that moment,
suspended above heaven and earth,
you realize all the support under you has vanished,
leaving only the silence of the clouds
to catch your fall.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A Place of Service

Sometimes I forget my place in my life.

I am a supporter, a believer in others, a servant.  My job, my task, is to lift others up - to help them see in themselves what they cannot see.  Often it is buried in the muck of a life where circumstances or others have buried them or not treated them well.  My goal is to clean up those dreams and skills and aspirations, recall them to what is possible, and help them to believe and then move forward.

It is a task.  It is something that I enjoy doing.  But sometimes I forget my place in life.

When this happens, I get myself too involved in the life of others (Trust me, I have done this).  I have made their happiness and their success as much about me as it is about them.  Rather than just being a supporter and second violin in the orchestra, I try to make myself a lead character and first violin.

This never goes well, of course.  The point of believing in people and lifting them up is that they will take wing and fly to new heights - not that their stories somehow entwine with mine.

The end is actually always the same, of course - they find their way up and onward (that is what I am trying to help with, of course) and I find myself feeling left behind and isolated.  No reason to feel that way of course - what I thought and what was actually going on were two very different things indeed.  Yet I always somehow am surprised at the end even though it is the same every time.

It is not that I regret what I do.  It a necessary thing, not only for those who need encouraging but for me - I need to do it.  The problem is the unrealistic baggage I bring along with it.

To serve - to truly serve - is to remember that the very best of service is the one that exists as a memory in the back of the served's mind, the sense that they really did do it without the recollection of any expectations or demands that were placed on them by the ones serving.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Second Act of Second Marriages

I am now apparently in that phase of living (and apparently have been for several years) where many of my friends are in the "Second Marriage" stage of life.

Most of them were divorced the first time for various reasons.  I do not always know the reasons and do not always ask, of course - people share what they feel they need to share when they need to share it.  Some seem to have ended relatively pleasantly, others with a level of animosity.  Most, on the whole, have moved on to at least acceptance and moving on with their lives.

But here they are.

It is interesting because lots of them are in that "first stage" of second marriage where everything is newly wed bliss and extreme happiness. It is odd to myself, who have been married over two decades, to see and experience this.  After all, up to this point most of my acquaintances were either unmarried or had been married for a considerable time.  Odd to think that suddenly I am greatly exceeding the span of peoples' relationships.  I am used to dealing with younger people in the throes of a new relationship.  Not so much the older ones.  It is as if I have been planted into a new scene with familiar players but a plot from a previous act.

It does make one think a great deal about one's own marriage.  After all, it feels like (no statistical data) here that I am in the minority.  And those who are in the second round seem to be at a relational place I am not and have not been for years.  The simple fact of the living through a marriage with its accompanying children, finances, and events has a way of drawing everything into the "life is so ordinary for me" scenario.

Which is why I have to constantly - and forcefully - remind myself that it is not about the simple act of relationship.  It is a picture, a picture of Christ and His church.  I do not know that it is always helpful to me in the most positive of ways.  But it does keep me on the track of remembering that to fail here is not just a failure for me, it is a failure for my outward facing witness to Christ.

I can fail  myself.  I cannot fail Him.