Neither Nor

Posted by jael on Jan 3, 2011 in Parenting, Spiritual Journey

A tale my husband told me last week continues to vex my peace.

We were able to NOT ONLY celebrate our anniversary this year, but do so without kids because of the incredible generosity of a Mommy-friend of mine.  This woman not only tended my kids, she took them to her house overnight so that we could, <gasp> sleep-in the next morning.  I think if you look in the OED under Mommy friend, that exact example is listed as an ace connotation!  Before you think I have wandered off the conversational path again, trust me, ok?  I am getting there.  Given the delicious novelty of the event and venue, The Husband and I agreed that we would not discuss The Children.  As we bath the children, feed the children, raise the children, keep the children from killing each other, praise the children, minister medical and emotional first aid to the children, tutor thie children, drive the children form event to event, and keep each other from killing the children together 24/7, not talking to each other about the children for a whole night is more of a challenge than you might expect.

Perhaps for want of content, it was on that date night that The Husband told me the story that thunders in my ear like a souped-up Chevy Geo with too much bass at a traffic light.  The Husband shared that he had been thinking about what a former colleague had told him while recovering from hip replacement surgery.  This former colleague is a pretty hip guy, super charismatic, a successful builder of teams, professionally savvy, a supportive husband, and a great dad.  You like look at his outsides, and you think, “Yeah, rims to fins, he’s the whole package.”  Given this public persona, therefore, it jolted The Husband, and me (still) by extension when he told my husband, “Self.  Work.  Family.  Pick 2.  You can’t be good at all 3.”

To his credit, The Husband did NOT throw the get-well potted plant on the speaker’s head.  Instead, he challenged the guy, “Come on, Buddy, look at you.  You can’t tell me that.  Look at you.”

The guy’s response it the vex piece.

He explained to The Husband that it’s actually much more dire than that.  He pledged that he could have honestly said you can only pick one of the three, “If you want to be excellent, if you want to be a true master, then you can really only pick one thing.  Like now, all my energy is in me.  Rehab.  Physical therapy.  I see my kids right now maybe a half hour a week.  I know all I can do, and what I have to do, is get myself strong again.  If you want to be excellent, you can only pick one.  If you want to be good, you can pick two things.  If you try to pick three, you will fail one of them.”

“If you pick three, you will fail one of them.”

Let’s review the list:  Self.  Work.  Family.

I’ll save you the pandora’s box that opens once one considers the order of that list… DON’T GO THERE.  Let my perseveration serve you, and let’s simply conclude that the list is not alphabetical.

Now let’s admit where we are…

Or just one sleazy, poligamist Don Quixote tilting at windmills and shooting for all three?

I gotta guess you know where I stand.

I’m like that multipurpose printer you got at Staples that never really worked right.  I want to print, fax, copy and butter your toast all on my own strength.


Ya’ll remember what happened to the printer in Office Space? That’s my success multitasking life without God, except I take the bat to my own head.  I don’t even need an to wait for an outraged consumer to go postal.

I am neither for Self, nor Work alone.
I am neither for Work, nor Family alone.
I am neither for Family, nor Self alone.
I am neither ignorant there are more permutations possible, nor willing to type them all out; that’s so not the point.
I am neither for conceding to suck at a core value nor, willing to admit that is necessary for success.

I am not a Math girl.
I am not a formula.
I am not an equation that needs reduction.

I stand among royal Company.
I am a New Creation.
I got Fruit.
The Fruit.
Neither one, nor the other,
but all the juice I’ll ever need to serve

Look at that, stop relying on my own, futile strength, and all of a sudden, my limits are neither lids nor forever.  They are just like a point on the map, baby.  I am here.  Now.  Today.  Don’t blink or go potty, though, cause I am on the move and I won’t be here tomorrow.  I’ll be there.  Simple.  Be still.  Plans to prosper, Baby…

For example, there was a time when my vex would have stayed irritated. Ida, you remember her, right, what I’d done… like for a time I should’ve legally changed my name to Ida Shoulda Done. Oh, yeah, baby, Ida woulda told that guy a thing or two about playing uncle in the orchard, pouring poison into my husband’s ear. I woulda been neither charitable nor mute.  I woulda been neither respectful nor cute.  That was then, though.

This vex Here, doesn’t burn, it grieves.

Really, guy, really? Is that what you believe?

I wanna strap the Turbo Charge of Life on his back like a passenger bag, and fill his Sigg bottle from the Well of Love.

Then he’d be neither tired, nor alone.
Then his limits would neither be his own, nor finite.
Then his Hope would neither be compartmental, nor cynical.
Then his Heart would neither be brittle, nor cold.
Then his life would neither be futile, nor small.
Then his Love would neither be limited, nor mortal.

I am vexed.

I don’t want to slap this guy, I just want to hug his heart and say, that idea neither belongs here, nor is longer welcome.

There is a better Way.

And as much as I want to let my Light shine, folks, there just ain’t no way present context and relationship allows me to tell this to him today.

Neither do I accept that as an excuse, nor will I forget my stand.

With this, as it should be for me with all things, I will wait with Hallelujah on my lips with sober expectation for Direction.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

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