Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Everybody Changed and Didn’t Tell Me?


Have you ever had the dream in which you’re walking along a familiar street, turn a corner, and discover you’re suddenly hopelessly lost in a strange place? At least in the dream you’ve chosen to turn the corner, but what if your world turns instantly strange and even scary through no fault of your own?

One day when I returned home from college, everyone else in my family had decided to change religious denominations, but they didn’t all choose the same one. I didn’t argue. I held a firm conviction that religion is a personal belief system—part of the responsibility that comes with free will and, therefore, something that shouldn’t be dictated. Then, as now, I echoed the sentiments voiced by Morgan Freeman within the TV series THE STORY OF GOD: look for the common truths that run through all religions.

My family REALLY didn’t agree. I started receiving letters meant to convert me—each adamant about a particular viewpoint. I could barely recognize my family. Age-old traditions were broken. Members aligned according to the churches they chose—which left me wondering how I came to be scolded and isolated when I was the only one who hadn’t changed. My parents’ deathbed words to me were dire predictions that I was—sadly—bound for Hell because I hadn’t mimicked their choice. My world slipped out from under me.

Consider how you felt after the death of a person who was pivotal in your life. Reality was instantly altered. You might have felt disoriented, emotional, and a little afraid. Problems you may not have anticipated—problems with money, social contacts, lifestyle, etc.—loomed as inescapable. Major upheavals in life must be unsettling. But what if you lose more than a person?

Recently, a Facebook friend bemoaned the fact that the interaction of our group has changed. For her, the recent American presidential election seemed like a simple progression from one administration to another—a political cycle. She couldn’t understand why the posts couldn’t go back to the subjects they used to feature—puppies, sunsets, and beautiful dinners. I understood. Our group had been diverse, close-knit, and supportive before November. Now many (not all) posts rattle with anger, fear, and admonitions about one side of the situation or the other. We sound cracked if not broken.

But the friend failed to comprehend that for many of us, a world on which we depend emotionally, financially, and socially is morphing into a new reality that contrasts not only idealogically, but also fundamentally from our past. For the time being, we’re being ruled by a single political party that can sidestep traditional checks and balances set in the Constitution. Although our government has never been altogether without misuse, the current system feels like Communism if not a budding dictatorship. Those who have voiced legitimate concerns have been warned to shut up and adjust instead of being heard. Still, what hope is there in remaining silent?

In ballet, as a dancer twirls around and around, if she doesn’t want to fall down, she must select a single anchor spot where she directs her eyes as she rotates. All of us are twirling now. We need to focus on what it is that we care about most—in ourselves, in our families, and in our world. We need to keep breathing and keep speaking our truths. Even if those around us grow annoyed, we must remain centered. We’ll keep enjoying puppies, sunsets, and beautiful dinners—all that’s good about living—while we remember that love and peace require courage and a voice…for art, for science, for the health of the Earth, and for compassion. This administration need not be any more limitless than those in the past if we don’t give up on our ideals or succumb to dread. We’ll receive the world we earn—inside and out. As Shakespeare wrote, “Act well your part; there all the honor lies.”

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