Wednesday, September 07, 2005


some days are just better than others. today i feel buoyant and it is because i've spent time contemplating some things and have come to some realizations. one: don't believe everything you hear, especially as it pertains to other people's opinions of you because you're neither as good or as bad as people suppose that you are. you are better in some respects, and worse in others. in the same vein, what you tell yourself about yourself isn't necessarily true either. despite whatever ways you find to berate yourself, you're not that bad; and perhaps you're not as good as you sometimes give yourself credit for being, either. at the end of the day, it is best to trust your best instincts about yourself. they will continue to serve you whereas your worst instincts will not. your worst instincts might even lead you ... well, we won't go there just yet.

first, i would like to talk some more about my homeless cousin. he's been feeling pretty browbeaten, no doubt. the family is frustrated because he won't comply with their wishes. as things stand now, yesterday he was supposed to attend a meeting with a person who works for a social services provider dedicated to helping homeless and mentally ill people. predictably, he didn't show up for his appointment. why should he? if he didn't see any benefit, then what's the point. just because the family (the one he resents so badly) wants him there? as much as i respect what the family is trying to do for him, i can understand why he didn't make the effort.

i was there, though, at the family's request. and on what seems to me now an ill-directed effort, getting him to sign some letters requesting a copy of a psychiatric evaluation he had last month. my understanding is that the family will use this evaluation in its ongoing effort to get some kind of government assistance for my cousin. i'm not sure of the precise details of the evaluation, but my understanding is it labels him as some kind of mentally ill.

putting the idea of whether he actually is mentally ill aside, he does not believe himself to be so. he, in fact, believes the family is trying to bilk the government out of money he is not entitled to receive and therefore wants no part of it. i have come to decide that i want no part in the ongoing effort to get him to sign the letters. this is better left to the family members who initiated this whole process.

i hope to play a constructive role in helping my cousin see his part in why he is where he is. without a doubt, he is feeling victimized by the family. likewise, family members are angry and frustrated with him. i have not seen him in years, before he became a homeless person, but have been told that he is unkempt, smelly, belligerent, speaks abusively, eats like a slob, and generally acts as if he is the center of the universe. he fancies himself some kind of "character" and has apparently become accustomed to life on the street, settling down at night in a homeless shelter.

somehow, my cousin needs to be convinced to take responsibility for pulling himself up, for making choices that are going to lead ...

"as our consciousness evolves from the position of victim, where we are being reactive, to the powerful position of taking charge of our destiny, we begin to gain a larger sense of who we are and what we can accomplish. armed with the energy of our awakening and inspired by renewed activities and interests, we can begin to experience our jobs as places of liveliness and productivity. ... optimism becomes a self-propelling upward spiral."
~ from the artist's way at work, by mark bryan with julia cameron and catherine allen

it is true that our paths - whether on a job or just in ordinary life - are like spirals; the direction of the spiral is determined by our attitudes. peace of mind comes from within ourselves; it is the result of conscious effort.

browbeating initiates a downward spiral. consideration of people's true needs leads upward.

my cousin needs a compassionate and wise mediator to help him come to terms with the reality of his situation. he might appear to be everything our worst instincts tell us he is: a dirty, filthy, violent hobo who has delusions of grandeur, but he is still his father and mother's son. he is still my cousin. there is still hope for him.

from bob dylan's chronicles, volume one:
"whatever you were thinking could be dead wrong."

from anne lamott's plan b: further thoughts on faith:
"when god is going to do something wonderful, he or she always starts with a hardship; when god is going to do something amazing, he or she starts with an impossibility."

from the bible, first corinthians 13:2:
"though i have all faith, so that i could remove mountains, and have not charity, i am nothing."