Influence

I think everyone has some kind of influence on others if they want to be influenced. It’s always a choice. The idiot that I fought with the other day in the Walmart parking lot influenced me – I was in a foul mood for the rest of the afternoon, and it still crosses my mind. I could meditate on the whole thing and probably force it out of my head, but it’s no longer about him. It’s about me. I let his anger tilt my sails a bit, and I could have made another choice. That’s a really little thing, but sometimes I’m easily influenced to do more significant things.

I think about people like Dylan Roof, or Timothy McVeigh, or any of the insurrectionists on January 6th. On some level they allowed themselves to be influenced by rhetoric, or the energy of the crowd, or their own pre-existing feelings of powerlessness. When I am not grounded firmly in my Self, that can be what happens.

Because I don’t want to be on somebody else’s path, I am staying on some kind of wandering course to somewhere I don’t yet know, but the steps are mine. My mind works differently than a lot of other folks, and I’m just beginning to accept that. That’s fine. At this point in my life, I am weary of fighting anyone, including myself.

The other day I was having a discussion with some UU people about social activism. We all agreed there has to be some kind of grounding in faith. Some of those folks are ministers, so that’s where they live, but I agree. My take on it is we could be doing our social activism work anywhere – in the Sierra Club, or in the ACLU, or the GLBT Pride network – but we have chosen to do it here, inside the UU container. Accordingly, what needs to bind us is faith, and not necessarily religious faith. Faith in our common view of how to make things better. Simple to me.

My neighbor’s 14-year old cat had to be euthanized over the weekend. Kitty had been fading in recent months. First, she lost her purr and her meow and had to have several teeth extracted. That brought her sounds back, but she was still a little subdued. They brought her back to the vet recently because she was coughing and wheezing. The first visit rendered no clue about the cause, but they prescribe antibiotics and sent her home. She went down a bit further and returned to the vet. This time they felt a lump in her chest and did an exploratory surgery to see what it was. When they got in there, it was a malignancy that had metastasized, and the vet called to say it would be best to put her down before she woke up. They felt she had probably begun to suffer from the pain the growth was likely to have caused. And so it was.

I know that pain, I know that silence when a tiny creature with a brain the size of plum leaves you. The male half of the couple is sad, but the female half is devastated. She cleared out all of the kitty’s food, toys, bedding, and dishes and threw them out. I understand that. When I had to put my last dog down, I did the same thing. The neighbor lady says no more pets. I said the same thing after I put that dog down, and less than six months later I got this little monster. So, we’ll see.

I bought a drone. I’ve been interested in doing that for a while and got a friend to recommend a good beginner device. I found it at Walmart for less than $100, so I ordered it online. It arrived, and I did my due diligence and viewed YouTube videos about how to set it up and fly it. I did all that, but…the damned thing wouldn’t fly. I couldn’t get the propellers to activate, and eventually, I decided it was the remote control unit that wouldn’t charge. I contacted the 3rd party that sold it for Walmart, and they were just a hot mess, so I decided to return it and start over. I bought another one – it’s set to arrive on Tuesday. I returned the old one after several fits and starts, but it’s done.

The most nonsensical thing about the entire drone acquisition was part of the return process. After I began the process online, they sent a bar code that I needed to show the customer service folks in any Walmart store. OK, that’s easy enough, so off I went.

Got to the store, with the drone firmly in hand in its original packaging, and found a lengthy line at the customer service counter. Hmm. Then I spied a sign that said “Express online returns here”. I charged in that direction, only to find there were no instructions for what to do when I arrived there. There was a huge lawnmower that seemed to be somewhat off-kilter, but no indication of what to do. There was a monitor behind the lawnmower that said “Press here for help”. So I pressed there. The monitor said that someone was coming to assist me. Tap tap. After a few minutes, with nobody in sight that looked as though they could even begin to help me, I went back to the email with the barcode. To my shock, there was a second page that I had not read. The second page said I needed to make the return merchandise shipping read – packed in a suitable box and sealed with packing tape.

I dejectedly left the store and returned home somewhat later to find an appropriate box. I did, and deposited the drone into the box, sealed it up with duct tape (it was all I had), and went back to Walmart today. I went to another store, not a superstore, and there was no crowd there. A very nice lady began to assist me with the return. To my amazement, the first thing she did was pull the tape off the box. I was stunned, and she must get that look all the time, because before I could utter a sound she said, “They make us look inside the boxes to make sure the item it says you are returning is in there. We don’t know why they tell everybody to seal their packages before they bring them here, but they get really mad at us if we don’t look inside.”

Hmmm. That’s just groovy. The box will have been sealed, unsealed, and then re-sealed before it gets thrown around on a truck somewhere for shipment to who knows where. My transaction got a little hinky because something was wrong with their computers (Mercury is in retrograde is all I’m going to say) and it took several tries to get me a receipt. But finally, it spits out of the printer and I was done. It is a story in several parts, and that just made me tired.

Before I went on the last stage of the drone adventure, I went to get my hair cut. It gets really kinked up when it gets too long, so it was all that and more. I felt like I had shrubbery on my head. I had a good time with the lady who cuts my hair; she is now going through a divorce and a new boyfriend. I enjoy her tremendously. She has two kids under the age of 15, and both of them have cystic fibrosis. She’s a good mom. Her soon-to-be ex-husband is a drunk, so the divorce will be better for all concerned. Life during wartime – this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around. But my hair is perfect and I can feel the wind on my scalp now.

So, adventure over, and it’s time to gear down. I bought some wi-fi headphones, and they are entirely awesome. The sound is incredible, and they are comfortable. I can do my Zoom calls in more comfort now, and listening to music is really satisfying. That was a good purchase – it makes me happy. I’m really not a terribly high-maintenance kind of girl, contrary to popular opinion.

The weather is beginning to be slightly less hot than a nuclear reactor, and that’s nice. Today it was close to 80 but the humidity was low, and there was a nice breeze. I sat outside with the dog a little while ago, until she started screaming at people walking by and another dog who was walking a good ways away.

I am fortunate to be able to do everything I did today, even the annoying things. I can do hard things, but when do I get to easy things? When do I get to have what I want, and not what I need? I am brought to a grinding halt on this train of thought when I remember that one of my favorite authors/bloggers is recuperating from brain surgery, and a friend of mine has just been referred to a urologist for a suspicious growth in his bladder. I suppose if I got what I thought I deserved, I wouldn’t even be here – I’d have killed my sill self doing something that seemed like a good idea at the time. So, I will be right here, being grateful for what I have. Full stop.

It’s out there, in the most unlikely places. It all depends on how you look at it.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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