Tag Archives: respect

Hootenanny

A hundred fit young gladiators, baby-boomers all, gather in one arena on this day to compete for ribbons and glory. There will be twelve champions, tonight, one from each weight class, and one high school will go home with a trophy. But, before the final wrestling matches, competitors gather on the center mat—and sing.

Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.

Wrestlers from eight competing teams sit on the mat after dinner and before the championship round. We wear colors of our teams—reds, greens, purple, blue, gold, maroon, black—with some of us in street clothes because we are out of the tournament.

We tell jokes. We get to know each other. And we sing.

My teammate brings forth his small four-string guitar and leads us in some old-timey folk songs—“Five Hundred Miles”, “Lemon Tree”, “Tom Dooley”, and we join in.

Music and humor become elixirs. We share more than competition. We get to know each other. We begin to laugh and like each other.

There is a bond among wrestlers on a team, a bond that lasts for years. But, there is also a bond among competitors, although I have not noticed bonds as tight as the ones we formed singing and joking on the mat. It was common to see wrestlers from one team cheering for wrestlers from another team—and coaching each other.

We grew to respect and to like each other. The world could use more of that.

The world could use more folk music sing-a-longs, informal gatherings of simple folks singing simple words and melodies that tell stories of people, passion, and poignancy.

Every now and then we could use a hootenanny.

It matters little how we categorize this kind of love, this respect and affection for competitors. It matters much that we recognize it, find it, and nurture it. After all, without our competitors, there is no competition. They are the reason we are having fun.

Perhaps it matters more to understand, a little, anyway, this other kind of love, the one that nurtures the competitors’ bond.

Maybe one kind of love feeds the other. Maybe the elixirs of our passions, our music, humor, art, or hobbies, help us to feel the love for one another.

Last week I confessed to loving dirt. Genetic or environment or Spirit, it doesn’t matter why. It matters that I do. Farmers and gardeners share a bond. Hunters and gatherers share a bond. Artists, including musicians, share a bond

Blessed are we who have a love, a passion, which we can share. I love dirt and I love learning.

My teammate, Rob, loved Biology and music, and I reckon he still does. I believe he recently retired from his Genetics Professor position, but he has not retired from music.

Care to listen? You can find him online at After Class playing some old-timey music with friends.

Come, join the hootenanny.

R – E – S – P – E – C – T

“I’m glad you were born.” That is what I told my wife on the day I met her, her 30th birthday. She liked it. Still does.

Wishing someone a happy birthday or a happy any day is an affirmation, a validation of their right to air. It is an expression of our willingness to share life with them. That is a very powerful kind of respect, and all we want is a little respect.

Yesterday, I enjoyed birthday wishes from many people on Facebook, some who have never seen my face. I got calls from my daughters, and my teenage grandson talked to me for several minutes. Nancy made my favorite dinner. It was a good day.

The first step in healing scars of trauma may be the simple act of validation, an affirmation of humanity. Happy birthday, good morning, or an honest smile may be all it takes. It is easy and cheap. Why is it so rare?

For those afflicted with invisible wounds (most of us), there is a double problem. First, we believe people are more dangerous than lions, tigers, or bears. We have great difficulty trusting people. Second, we have trouble feeling worthy so that any perceived slight is taken as gross disrespect.

Road rage is a problem—even inside the supermarket.

A simple kind of love soothes us. It might be a form of philos, the love of our fellow human beings, that encourages us back to social and emotional health. When someone takes the time to wish us well, even without words by offering us help or encouragement, it validates our humanity. We feel bigger, more worthy, and less wounded.

A colleague stopped by my office, yesterday, just to ask me if I had enough work to do. That was a validation of my efforts to move our program development along, an acknowledgement of my worth.

Another invited me to participate in his class even though I had too much to do to go. He gave me the materials to read on my time. That is professional respect.

I am a fortunate man.

Our world is full of angry, ill people, and we have developed a habit of pointing out faults of the other. We feel like others, us and them, and so we become enemies when we are really all the same. We all want a little respect.

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Breathe all the air you want, today, and have a great day. I’m glad you were born.