Waking Up, Upside Down: A Prayer of Sorts for the Big Guy

This is one of my stranger late-night/half-asleep “visions” in some time.  (Visions sounds more profound than delusions.)

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to hear my child crying in distress from her room.  I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter, a la ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and when I entered the room I found her completely turned around in her bed, with her little head at the foot board and her toes at the top.  Nearly unconscious herself, she was confused and scared and had no idea how to right herself.  Her eyes were closed the whole time.

While I worried that maybe she would be up for hours after this, all it took was me gently repositioning her and covering her up with her quilt.  She immediately snuggled back to sleep without a word, tears still bright on her cheeks.   Back where she belonged, all was right with the world in a matter of seconds.

So this event is not the weird part.

The weird part is as I staggered back to my own bed I suddenly had complete clarity that I should pray for the former Governor of California and his family.  But mostly for him as an individual.  In that wee hour of the morning, walking away from my confused child who was easily comforted, my brain went to one of the — allegedly — most invulnerable men in the world.

When I say pray for him, that was beyond my capacity.  It still is in the truest sense of the word pray.  But I did make an effort as I was falling back asleep to think kind thoughts about his suffering, and to wish him some telepathic comfort.

I seriously wonder sometimes how much we change from childhood to adulthood.  One of the reasons I created Essays on Childhood is I am convinced that so much of who we are and what we need as children stays with us in formative ways throughout our lives.

I’ve been negative on Arnold and his whole proverbial show for a long time; yet now I see him as a child who woke up upside down and had no idea what to do next.  This 10 year delay in telling his wife about his son with another woman is totally bizarre, unless you imagine a child’s mind that found itself somewhere it had no intention of going.  It’s like he was waiting this whole decade for someone else to turn him around.

Now I know, he is not a child.  He made conscious choices and a lot of people are paying an awful price.  The man is accountable.  He was not a sleeping kid.  I suppose it is possible that he is a horrible human being who is much more flawed than anyone else and that he deserves no empathy from anyone.  Believe me, I generally feel a lot of righteous anger when I rant about how disrespectful, narcissistic and unpleasant he is.  How he represents the qualities I find most retch-inducing in humanity and how if I have to see his jerko face one more time I’m going to scream.

I still sort of prayed for him.  For some strange reason, it felt right.

Image credit:  i am the closet geek

14 thoughts on “Waking Up, Upside Down: A Prayer of Sorts for the Big Guy

  1. To quote the Bard:
    “Use every man after his desert, and who should scape whipping?”
    HAMLET, Shakespeare
    I applaud your effort – we are ALL – at some point in our lives – “as bad as [we] seem.” I would hope SOMEONE out there would pray for me, as well.

    • It was just one of those odd things…..it was not a conscious effort to be magnanimous. It just came into my mind. Thanks for your comment, I love any time I can get Shakespeare in the mix!

  2. Elizabeth,
    I don’t know if I can quote any Shakespeare or great Presidents or anything, but I do know that it takes great strength on your own part to pray (even a little bit) for someone who is so “bad”. That shows a lot about your individual strength as a person.

    • Todd, I will accept your kind compliment. I don’t know that it’s strength, maybe it is. It’s just this feeling that comes over me as I get older, that we are all so fragile despite how we may appear on the outside. That is one of the reasons I like your blog, http://kindness365.wordpress.com/. Whatever small things we can offer to one another, let us offer those things when we feel them and not over-think it. I’m always trying to be better at that.

  3. “I seriously wonder sometimes how much we change from childhood to adulthood. One of the reasons I created Essays on Childhood is I am convinced that so much of who we are and what we need as children stays with us in formative ways throughout our lives.”

    I wonder the same thing… Looking at cycles of poverty, violence, and abuse–as well as cycles of virtuosity, kindness, and affluence–lends credence to the argument. There are exceptions. People escape the difficult circumstances into which they were born. Others fail to measure up to the decency of the people who raised them and surrounded them when they were kids. So while there are no guarantees, I think that childhood experiences certainly influence the probability of a person becoming one way or another as an adult (mountains of studies confirm this, of course). And having taught for a few years now, I look at the mistakes adults make and I can SEE the kid in them. And when I look at some young people, I can see the adult they may become.

    But you’re right, as adults we must be accountable for our actions, whatever our circumstances growing up. I like what you said, though, because to remember that even “bad” people were once kids humanizes them even if it doesn’t pardon them for their misdeeds.

    • Yes, one of my favorite quotes is from Niels Bohr — something to the effect that there are 2 kinds of truth. Trivial truth and profound truth. The opposite of trivial truth is a lie, and the opposite of profound truth is another profound truth.

      People overcome incredible odds to rise up out of a terrible childhood sometimes. But I also know that childhood experience “sticks.” It cannot be undone, for better or worse, and I dream of a world where all of us are more sensitive to this reality — how it affects others, but also how it shapes our entire world.

      Thanks for a thoughtful comment!

  4. “…I seriously wonder sometimes how much we change from childhood to adulthood….”

    Not much. We can change, or more accurately refine ourselves, but the essence usually remains the same. It is important to always strive for improvement, but the essence remains the same.
    I’m curious- why did you feel compelled to pray for him? I tend to wonder what causes people to pray for those they loathe. You’re probably just nicer than me. Also, I tend to pray essentially for my own peace of mind since I don’t believe my praying has any actual effect except on myself.

    • I don’t know. What does the bible say about the conditions we should or should not set on love and compassion? And what does it say about loathing? What does it say about prayer in general? These are sincere questions.

      Maybe they pray for people they loathe because if, as you said, our essence usually remains the same from childhood onward, then the worst among us need more help than anyone.

      Dictionary.com defines essence as “the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features. . . something that exists, especially a spiritual or immaterial entity.” That sounds a lot like a definition of the soul. Do the people we loathe come into this world with already corrupt souls? Are they sinners from birth?

      I don’t know.

      • I’m sure everyone does things from different motivations, some of which we know and some of which we don’t, right?

        It’s so great when people say, “I don’t know.” You rock. (FYI, I fixed up your typos, OCD man. LOL)

    • One reason I wrote this post is that this was an unusual but increasingly more frequent experience for me — in a hazy moment having complete clarity about something emotional or spiritual if you will. It feels like “the holy” is using my relaxed state of mind to prompt ideas I don’t entertain when all of my walls are up.

      I don’t know why it happened. It is probably closer to having been broken down almost completely and rebuilt from that spiritual/emotional place over the course of various life events. I guess I’m pretty nice but I don’t think I’m one of those exceedingly nice people. I am in touch with humility and its gifts, so that may be it.

      BTW, I love the idea of praying for your own peace of mind. Wow….how great would it be if everyone did that!

  5. Pingback: Love & Sex, Sideways | Esse Diem

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