There is far too much whine at the table of life, no one serving and not enough hors d’oeuvres to realize it. For whatever the reason or divine plan in my own life, I have been exposed to unique and important view points and road signs along my journey, and if there was ever a reason to be thankful and feel blessed, that would without a doubt be mine. Growing up, I thought these blessings were just a way of life, the story of the man who ran the hardware store, the down on their luck people my father helped in his capacity as police chief or even the neighbor, who lived an almost double life as dear friend, and nightly bar stool warmer sitting two fingers neat. They all molded my character and how I eventually saw people, but more importantly, what I saw in myself.
As I grew up, life afforded me hors d’oeuvres in the form of a week-end trip once a year; from the time I was five until I turned twelve. Traveling with my parents to new states for an annual police chief’s convention, provided the actual no holds barred fruit cup and open bar banquet for my hors d’oeuvres of knowledge, as well as people from walks of life I never would meet again. Just like the fictional back story for Law and Order, they were their own stories. As my young branches were bent, from glittering cocktail gowns, mug shots, ethics and pure entertainment, I began to see people as more than the sum total of what stood before me. This journey continued into high school when I traveled to Spain in a student exchange program, and saw the stories yet again, only this time clearer, because the language was not always understood and actions did the speaking loudly. This stage I was set upon, always filled me with respect, humanity, wonder and creativity, which in my youth I thought was simply preparing me for motherhood, and the responsibility of sending little ones off into the world, as prepared as possible.
In between the branches, on my family and society tree, I also discovered the selfish, hurtful and uncaring actions which grew along the solid bark of my soul. There is a reason people talk about the tree and not what grows, because the “leaves” are what usually need to go and not stay. They forever change the tree, and more often than not for the worse. Guess that is why a Christmas tree is an evergreen – spiritually speaking someone figured that out early. Maybe it’s also why autumn is my favorite season, when the self indulgent are no longer sunning themselves, only heard one last time, when they fall away brittle, to make room for a hopeful green regeneration in the spring. Yes, the tree remains grounded, the temporary is what leaves.
Walking through adulthood, my hors d’oeuvres continued, with celebrities in the media, professional sports, indigent and affluent and creative minds which were awe inspiring. All of their ability and knowledge every bit as glittering as the cocktail gowns from my mad men era upbringing, and their stories just as intriguing. One thing that never changed though regardless of their station in life, was that compassion and love can be polished, glitzed up or put in a five pound sack of manure, and when it is all said and done, it always looks beautiful. I am most thankful for a Grand Wizard and a Satanist who confirmed this, although it was a given in my soul already. You can’t say the same about hate, jealousy, anger, rage or selfishness – because without the trappings of money and some type of power, they are just a cold bare frame, devoid of anything nourishing and you are usually happy to see them leave.
Enlightenment, as I sat across the table listening to the words of Zeena Lavey, daughter of Anton LaVey, the Church Of Satan’s favorite son – so what if his name really is Howard and he came from Omaha. Hearing the Golden Rule twisted into perversion, where only the strong survive and the weak need to be annihilated, from someone in designer clothes, speaking only to further her own tarnished self image, made me lose my appetite. Likewise, as Grand Wizard David Duke preached the glory of the KKK and ethnic cleansing from my office, I needed more than mental sorbet. However, because we live in a country of free speech, their free will to exercise it, gives strength to those unable to feed their own minds, which even back then was disturbing, now it is flat out terrifying.
There are no hors d’oeuvres with the fast food most of us now live on, no savoring of the individual elements to prepare us for the appreciation of the main course; most of us just sustain life now and little more. I often wonder if the Last Supper was type of harbinger for what was to come in humanity – giving us a chance to see emotions and forgiveness one last time before all hope is gone. I can’t see how mankind can continue in this race against time with blinders on, only taking in what we must have to survive, ignoring the needs and lives of others, only content when we are selfishly satisfied by food, money, and personal power. Just like the Lorax said, everything dies without the base of the tree.
As my time on this earth continues towards the end, I will prefer to look back at what made my life’s buffet memorable. Like sitting in the official press room while still in high school, hearing Rosalynn Carter talk about, and later prove how humanity was more important than politics, taking notes eager to share in my school paper. I’ll remember famous athletes with multi-million dollar contracts who worried over taking care of their mother or needing me to find a crib at the Super Bowl, an elderly dying man offering to help me in a time of need, a sculptor in Zimbabwe making treasures from the earth, feeding his family with pride for a year on the $25 from my purchase, a child looking into my eyes knowing they were loved, and a movie star who stopped to open a door for me, when we walked in the same direction. We are all in this life together for a reason, and we have a responsibility to one another, that on some occasions we must be the hors d’oeuvre, enriching one another with experience and ability, the other may not yet have had, serving one another in compassion, and breaking bread not bones, which have been beaten down with the random sticks and rolling stones of ignorance.