The Youngster was in the neighborhood today, so he dropped by for a visit. While we talk on the phone and exchange emails quite often these days, the in-person visits are more fun for catching up, and, let's face it, act as more of a tonic than do the more remote forms of communication.
He needled me about calling him "that fucker", even as he acknowledged it was a compliment. And then he needled me about my attitude towards "church", mainly, that I feel the need to put quotation marks around it. Why not just go to church?, he asked.
He's started attending fairly recently but has known me long enough to understand my distaste for proselytizing of any kind. As much as is possible between one who chooses church and one who chooses "church", the question was offered and accepted, I think, in the spirit of logical, impartial discourse, not sales.
And why, you might ask? Is it because I am so evolved, so sure of my own way and tolerant of others', that I didn't throw out the strong-arm at the mere mention of church-no-quotation-marks?
Nope. Well, partly, maybe. But fully half of what made civilized discourse possible is that he called it "shirts", in the same way I call yoga, or called, when I was attending, "yogurt". Poking gentle fun at something we're now embracing acknowledges both that we came to it from someplace else and that there is another way. When I was into "yogurt" (as opposed to yogurt, which I am still very much into), I knew how ironimical that shift in position was; at the same time, I had come to understand that there was at least as much good in yoga as there was silliness in the hoohah surrounding it.
If I can manage to find the "yogurt" in yoga and you can manage to find the "shirts" in church, maybe we can both live in something other than a black-and-white world. I spent years loathing myself for overstaying my welcome on Madison Avenue, and years more punishing myself for hanging on to relationships, habits and notions that had clearly run their course.
From this side of the Divide of Mean I can tell you, there's not much use to it. Now I see that if I can embrace each thing as a step on the path, nothing has to have been bad or wrong, it can just be. And of all the things I've found that let people get along and let dissonance just be, levity is the simplest, most graceful and joyous.
And if you think of it, isn't that how the good Lord would want his shirts done?
Lesson #16: To see more clearly, lighten up.