Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

27 April, 2014

WHY SOME MARRIAGES STAND THE TEST OF TIME AND OTHERS DO NOT

I have marvelled lately over the miracle of birth and how one generation begets another.  I am particularly moved by photographs of friends and acquaintances of yesteryear that appear on Facebook profiles -- photos of healthy and smiling children and grandchildren, all bearing strong family resemblances.

Many of my friends, for crying out loud, I remember from when they were the current age of their grandchildren and I cannot help but be amazed at how quickly time flies and how lives unfold.  I cannot help but wonder too, why some couples stay committed over the long haul while others fail to make it past a few years. Many of my old chums are still going strong after 50 and 60 years of marriage. On the other hand, there are those who have been married two and three times.  Then again, some of us have lost partners through death and have been fortunate enough to find special love a second time.  Life is just like that!
Heart of the matter

My hat is off to couples who bond sufficiently to spend lifetimes together and leave legacies for their families. In truth, in many respects, lasting marriages are a gift to all who behold them.

I cannot help but think that in the early going, many young people with raging hormones forget that finding the right person in life is just the beginning of the journey, not the destination. In order to move from casual dating to a committed, loving relationship, there is a need to nurture that new connection. It's a process that requires time, effort, and a genuine interest in the other person as a whole. It also requires an openness to compromise and to change.

All relationships change over time. You change and your partner changes, and so do needs and expectations. What you want from a relationship at the beginning may very well be different from what you and your partner want from that same relationship a few months or years down the road. That is why I have so much admiration for couples who discover the secret to a lasting relationship.

Now here is where I may get a bit personal and controversial. There are only two reason why people enter romantic relationships in the first place (unless they come from a culture where marriages are arranged). Every relationship that was ever started can be traced back to sex or love as a point of origin. Humans are mammals, and just like other mammals we have a biological need to reproduce that cannot be suppressed or repressed. This forces us to want sex. For some people this want turns into an over-riding need, depending on other psychological and physical factors.

Oh, sure, I have lusted and wanted to love my partner so much that it hurt; but I learned very quickly as a young man that in order to receive love I must give love -- a committed, sensitive and caring kind of love that knows no bounds and makes no exceptions. The ability to forgive and to forget also went a long way -- still does. I knew myself well enough to understand that I was not physically or emotionally capable of having sex just for the sake of having sex, but that was just me...I know that is not the way with many people.  "Is that a curse or a blessing?" you may well ask...I guess it all depends on how you look at the question.

Love is correlated. Love is one of those words that are hard to explain. One person will describe it one way, one person will describe it another, but no matter the definition I find that one element always remains -- everyone incorporates "companionship" into their description of love. No matter what the loneliest person in the world tells you, they do not want to be alone. Sometimes maybe, but not all the time, and certainly not forever.

I think that we all can attest to the fact that we are first attracted to the physical attributes of a potential life partner, then secondly and ideally we look for a natural blending of likes, dislikes, personality and character attributes.  When love blooms under those conditions and it is fresh, it feels very much like the ultimate; but when the novelty of being in love wears off, the relationship starts to go downhill.  I heard someone recently liken it to having a new toy as a kid...Eventually there is a tendency to get tired of playing with that toy. Maybe Freud was on to something...It seems like our adult life is always leading us in retrospect back to childhood and I wonder if that toy metaphor correlates into longer relationships.  For example, do children who stick with one toy for a longer period of time end up in adult relationships longer?  Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

I always felt an attachment to my toys, many of which I have kept to this day.  I could never part with them. Maybe it has been the same in my relationships.  Something within me always wants to hold on. Personally and honestly, whenever I felt the novelty of love wearing off for various reasons, and there are those times in every marital relationship, I reflected on what brought the two of us together in the first place and how reciprocal my partner had been, not to mention the ultimate blessing of the fruit of our loins.

Then too, Mother Nature, eventually plays a role in all of our lives.  She creeps up on us gradually and annoyingly (I will not elaborate, but I'm sure you know what I mean).  Age-forced abstinence is when the real test of a marriage comes into play.  Believe it or not kids, there are substitutes for the sex you may think is so important to you at your present stage of life. Take it from me, as one who has found it necessary to become a primary caregiver for a totally dependant and ailing spouse, not once but twice in combined marriages that total more than 50 years. I have often said that if you think that lightening does not strike twice, then think again.

I live with the understanding that God giveth and He taketh away.  I do not necessarily miss what we once had in our relationship because other things have come along to fill the void -- things like compassion, a new closeness and understanding of the real needs of life coupled with satisfaction in expressing mutual appreciation for favors large and small.  I derive particular gratification from giving to someone who has given so much to me. There is reward in a particular glance, a touch of the hand, and a smile that speaks volumes.

Sometimes we simply need a jolt of reality in our relationships. Could we really live without our partners in our lives?  Could we accept the fact that, all things being equal, there are always those waiting in the wings who would gladly give what we have forgotten, or are withholding, from our relationships? It was always sobering for me to think about another man giving my wife what I once gave her, only maybe even a little better. I do not know how some people move on with that thought hanging over them.

There's an old saying to the effect that "relationships end the same way they begin." So, according to this theory, if you and your mate started off hot and heavy and quickly turned your "magnetism" into a relationship, then it will end the same way. Hot, heavy, and quick. It seems like too many people turn sexual flings and desperation for love into instant relationships before giving their feelings a chance to blossom. When you go that route you are skipping the beginning, starting in the middle and sabotaging the end. It's like coming into a movie after it has been running for an hour. Even if you end up liking the movie you still have to see it again to fill in the parts that you missed.

So after having expressed all of that, I guess what I am really trying to say is that love -- true love built on a strong respectful foundation -- is the tie that binds.  Satisfaction in knowing that, as a couple, you have survived the ups and downs of life and that you have done your utmost in nurturing a lasting relationship that has produced children and grandchildren of which you are extremely proud. Yes, even going so far as posting family photos on those aforementioned Facebook profiles for all to see and to admire.

Trust me folks of my generation, we have all been watched and we are all being replicated. Just pray that it is in a good and productive way that is indicative of the fact that we have done some things right.

As I have said numerous times before on Wright Lane, that's just me talking though...Talk is cheap!

17 April, 2014

MY METHOD OF FIGHTING BULLIES NOT RECOMMENDED, BUT EFFECTIVE

Recent studies have shown that babies are actually born with a mean streak, confirming a long-standing personal belief about bullying being an in-bred compulsion to "hurt" others with differences and to have fun doing it. A startling revelation to be sure, but in truth, bullying is an age-old social disorder, or disease, that festers and passes from generation to generation.

I have come to the conclusion that parents have to be aware of this fact-of-life phenomenon and be prepared to teach the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.") from the word go. Society in general has never effectively dealt with bullying, in spite of much research on the subject.

In experiments conducted by University of British Columbia psychology professor Kiley Hamlin, babies aged nine to 14 months were found to take pleasure in the bullying of individuals they saw as different from themselves. The study, in a terrifying preview of the social minefield, offered the infants a choice between a snack of graham crackers or green beans. The children were then shown a video of two puppets. In the video, one puppet favoured the same snack as the child while the other puppet made a food faux pas by choosing the snack the child had passed on.

The children, when asked which of the puppets was their favourite, selected the puppet with similar tastes. The experiment takes a slightly sinister turn when the children are shown videos of the puppets bullying each other. Not only did the children not mind when their favourite puppet picked on the puppet who chose differently from them, they also showed favouritism to new puppets who bullied the puppet that liked different snacks from the infant.

Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, ages and sexes and as a youngster I had to deal with all of them.

Even though people who bully cause a great deal of pain for others, in truth, more often than not they need help too. Many one-time bullies simply grow out of their mean-spiritedness, but there are still others who, if they do not learn how to change their behaviours, usually end up in trouble with the law. By age 24, 60 percent of people who were childhood bullies have at least one criminal conviction. People who continue to bully have many other problems as adults with histories of alcoholism, antisocial personality disorders and need for mental health services.

My experience has been that some people who bully may not even understand how wrong their behaviour is and how it makes their victims feel. When they get a taste of their own medicine, they surprisingly feel seriously wronged and this is not the first time that I have written on the subject.

I agree that the best defense against people who bully is to LIKE YOURSELF, be CONFIDENT IN YOURSELF, and DO NOT LOOK LIKE A VICTIM. You should never try to beat bullies at their own game. You cannot bully someone who bullies into not being a bully. Sometimes, that is. I do not advocate my method of dealing with childhood bullies, but in the end it was effective. I just had to suck it up for a few years and bide my time.

I was first introduced to bullying when I was around seven years of age and I endured scrapes, bruises, ripped clothing, intimidation and sheer fright for a good four years. There were times when even an older sister of two of my bullies even got in on the act. On my way to and from school, I would walk blocks out of my way and hide behind trees and houses in order to avoid my tormentors. When confrontations were unavoidable, my heart would pound out of my chest and I would be overcome with a nauseous chill. I learned to run fast, very fast.

My bullies were three to six years older than me, members of about three families who usually ran in a group. They were relentless and I hated the sight of them. They, on the other hand, seemed to delight in the sight of me -- a hapless and helpless smaller kid who quaked in their presence, and they knew it.

Time and mother nature, however, were great equalizers in my case. I put on a growing spurt and learned how to spat in the school yard. Self-defense lessons from my dad also eventually served me in good stead. One day when I was about 11, I was accosted by one of my bullies in the local post office. He was alone and as he reached out to push me in the chest, I saw my long-awaited opening and planted my fist squarely between his eyes, as my dad had coached me to do. "Get that first punch in Dick...And make it a good one!"

Stunned, bleeding from his nose and stooping to pick up shattered glasses that I had not noticed him wearing, he cried in retreat: "What did you do that for? You'll have to pay for these glasses. My parents just bought them!"  I nodded in tentative agreement because I felt bad about the glasses.

When I got home that afternoon, I half proudly announced to my mother that I had punched Bill ------- and that we'd probably have to pay for his broken glasses. "Are you kidding?" my indignant mother responded. "After all that he and his brothers have done to you and the clothing that they have ruined? Not a chance."  Billy boy, by the way, never mentioned the glasses again...And neither did I.

A day or two later when I was walking home from school with a friend, one of the older bullies approached me saying: "You think you're tough Wright, hitting a guy with glasses on? Take me on for size!" Without hesitation I found myself tackling the guy, knocking him off his feet. My friend Jackie was quick to join the fray and together we pummelled the somewhat rotund loud-mouth into submission on the downtown sidewalk as his peers watched in stunned amazement.

Word spread quickly about my new-found tendancy to fight back. I was never again bothered by a bully. Oddly enough, in due course, I became friends with most of the bullies who I sensed always looked at me with wary eyes. I even reached the point of feeling sorry for several of them in later years because fate had not dealt all that kindly with them.

All those guys are dead now, God rest their souls...And I'm still alive almost 70 years later to talk about that rather unpleasant period in my childhood. A period that unfortunately is a rite of passage for so many youngsters, even to this day.

I still hate bullies and bullying and wish that I could punch everyone of them right between the eyes on behalf of helpless and hapless victims everywhere. That's just me talking though, but I know my dad would agree, even if others wouldn't.

05 April, 2014

TEACHER'S WISDOM, PAINTERS TRUST, RESULTED IN A MASTERPIECE

The ancient Greek artist Timanthes' masterpiece was this painting
of the "Sacrifice of Iphigenia." Timanthes painted around 400 B.C.
Iphigenia is a daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in Greek
mythology, whom Agamemnon (covering his face) is commanded
to kill as a sacrifice to allow his ships to sail to Troy.
Over 2,000 years ago a young Greek artist named Timanthes studied under a respected tutor. After several years the teacher’s efforts seemed to have paid off. Timanthes painted an exquisite work of art, about which he was very proud.

Unfortunately, Timanthes became so enraptured with the painting that he spent days gazing at it. One morning when he arrived to admire his work, he was shocked to find it completely blotted over with fresh paint.

Angry, Timanthes ran to his teacher. The wise old man admitted it was he who had destroyed the lovely painting.

“I did it for your own good," the man said. "That painting was retarding your progress. Start again and see if you can do better."

Stunned, confused but willing to trust, Timanthes took his teacher’s advice. He next produced the "Sacrifice of Iphigenia," which is regarded as one of the finest paintings of all of antiquity.