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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guard House Thoughts 3/11/2012

Guard House Thoughts

Here I sit in the guard house again with too much time for thinking. It is a peaceful night with a few sprinkles of rain tapping against the windows sporadically. Frogs are croaking in the distance and traffic has slowed at the evening hours travel toward the beginning of a new day.

I leave a journal here in the guard house for anyone who wishes to write in it. I share many of my thoughts in this journal as well as keeping one of my own. Tonight as I read a few entries that had been written since my last shift my thoughts turned to the movie Forrest Gump. It has been several years since that movie premiered but I think nearly everyone remembers the line; “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”

When I get a box of chocolates it has a little printed diagram on the inside of the lid to the box. By using the diagram it is possible to find your favorite candies and avoid those you haven’t tried or know you don’t like. The chocolates all sit there together in the box but they are all different. They also have no choice in who gets to eat them or if they get eaten at all. Life doesn’t come with a diagram or directions. Would it be better if it did?

We don’t get to pick our family, many of our life experiences, or our DNA. From the moment we are born we operate on a sort of auto-pilot. Instinct plays a large part in every life. Some people are attracted to light hair and some prefer darker shades. Everyone has a preference when it comes to food, colors, and hobbies and either we are driven to succeed or content just to get through each day as it comes.

We do get to make choices but very often they are choices made without full knowledge of what we are choosing. We can’t see the future, we don’t always know about someone else’s past, and we are all eager to find at least one little something in each day that gives us a reason to smile or have that warm and fuzzy feeling of contentment when we close our eyes at night.

Basic courtesy and respect for each other seems to have vanished. We have become so intent on chasing a dollar or finding the love of a lifetime that we seem to have forgotten how to appreciate each other or respect the needs of others to have privacy or moments of emotional upheaval. Maybe we have just become blind to the obvious or maybe we all just try too hard. I think a lot of us set our standards so high that it’s impossible for anyone to meet them. I guess we all need to learn how to get past our own preconceived notions of what life SHOULD be and explore all the possibilities of life COULD be.

Last evening I watched a movie I normally would not have chosen. I tend to avoid movies that will make me cry like a blubbering whale. I tend to avoid movies that make me risk wetting my pants when some hideous creature grabs an unsuspecting victim even though there was music playing that should have warned them. I tend to avoid anything that is too realistically gory or painful and I definitely avoid movies with sappy endings! Thinking about it right now, I tend to avoid movies of all types these days but that is another matter entirely.

At any rate, this movie, “The Way,” did not have a single love scene or high speed car chase. There was no profanity and no sexy leading man to make my heart throb with thoughts I will not share here.  Martin Sheen played the lead role of Tom, a father who loses his only son in a tragic accident in France. When he goes to identify the remains and bring the body back home he changes his mind and decides instead to complete a pilgrimage his adult son had started.

This journey changes Tom’s life and the way he has viewed life up to that point. One of the last things his son had said to him before leaving on his trip was, “You don’t choose a life, you live one.” By the end of the pilgrimage, Tom knew his son had been right all along. It is a strange twist in life that when something we love is taken from us we really start to appreciate what we have always had but failed to see.
I have often dreamed of taking a cross country trip to explore different places and experience new things. I enjoy meeting new people and learning how other people live and no one would know anything about me or the life I’ve lived that has made me who I am today. I would be just another tourist checking out the sites and striking up conversations.

The truth is; I could start expanding my world right here. I could ignore the little diagrams in the box of chocolates and just sample all the pieces instead of sticking with the tried and true. If I wasn’t so sure of what I like I might find a delightful new flavor. I could open my eyes and my heart to the people around me and be more receptive if I could let my armor down just a little bit.

There are at least three employees here who have lost a child to death. That is a blow you never fully get over and yet you have no choice but to continue living. As the song goes, whatever you survive only makes you stronger. Sometimes it is just not easy to comprehend that others feel the same pain you feel or experience the same events you experience. Just knowing there are other people like you does not make your own feelings any less intense.

I’m positive the people I work with have all experienced a vast array of life changes and emotional highs and lows. Love and heartbreak, profound joy and soul shattering sadness, knowing the peak of health and fitness and the decline of the body and capability, success and failure, all dance with each one of us at some point. We are like those pieces of candy in a box. We are all gathered here together but we’re all different.
Why don’t we just try to be polite and kind to each other because we all have different mountains to climb? Why don’t we start to accept ourselves for what we are and let go of those ideas about what would make someone else a better person?

There is no such thing as perfection,
We’re all human, we all have flaws,
Instead of fighting a useless battle,
We could stand together for a cause.

I once thought I needed to be blonde,
Younger, richer, thinner, I never felt quite right,
Then I heard a whisper; I mattered to someone,
I felt beautiful and desired that night.

Now I’ve got some age behind me,
But I can still give and receive love,
I know I can make a difference,
For each day of life I thank God above.

I think I’ll find the movie Forrest Gump and watch it again soon. Forrest was a person born to this world with little hope of becoming a success but he saw simple pleasures and truths most people overlook. He also overlooked a lot of things most people see. My life is forever changing and maybe it really is like a box of chocolates after all.

© Dianna Doles Petry

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