Obsession with the Absurd

June 5, 2020

During the current Covid-19 pandemic everyone is rather on edge and often little things become blown out of proportion.  In this environment, perspectives on what’s important sometimes get off as well. Here’s my story of what happened with a next door neighbor over a small planting bed in the front area between our two townhouses. To me, it’s an example of how one’s mind focuses on the absurd when it doesn’t have anything else more constructive to capture the attention.  

Late one Saturday night a few weeks ago, my next door neighbor, also a single older woman sent me an email asking me to trim my bush. Her request seemed really out of left field as it was spring time and my bush had been in the ground for 23 years without it bothering any of my prior neighbors having also resided in the same house next door. Why suddenly did she worry about this bush? In her email, again late at night, she stated that she was concerned that my bush would harm her plants newly placed in the “flower bed” between our two homes.

As a point of reference, I’ve always maintained this area 75% because I’ve lived there longest and have paid for whatever was necessary. A couple years ago, suddenly the tree died and as it was deemed “my tree” by the neighborhood I was required to pay for the removal and replanting of another tree which set me back $1000. Her predecessor neighbor disavowed any responsibility for the tree stating that the trunk of the tree was technically on my side of the planting area thus my problem. This was her view even though the tree was clearly providing beauty and shade for the two homes. I graciously accepted the responsibility and when the bed had to be redone I didn’t tell the gardener to stop at my half, I had the entire bed redone without expense to the neighbor. I felt like I was doing the right thing.

My late night response to this neighbor’s bush trimming request was that I’d take care of it in the fall. Receiving my email only made her more determined to stand up for what she wanted and I got more emails demanding action. I was really having a hard time taking her seriously. We were in the middle of the pandemic, I was going out once a week for food and for a daily walk, and really didn’t want to think about trimming a bush. To me, it seemed so ridiculous.

The emails began to fly back and forth with me stating that I’d take care of it and her stating that she’d take matters into her own hands. Really? It was a bush and 6 inches away from her plants. What could happen to them? At one point I even told her that she needed a new hobby, and pointed out for example that I was learning to make masks to donate to the Million Mask Challenge. Well, this only made her angrier and she assumed I was saying that she wasn’t doing anything to help with the pandemic. In response, she told me that her daughter was a nurse in NYC on the front lines of things. Great, what are you doing? But this is really not the point. I didn’t want any trouble. I was minding my own business and she was making an issue about a bush that grew an inch in a year or two suddenly creeping up on her plants.

As far as this new neighbor of about 1.5 years was concerned, learning about how the tree was planted held no interest for her. She proceeded to send me nasty emails about how awful I was and how I didn’t greet her properly when she moved in. I’m not sure what she expected, but in my neighborhood people move in and out without much fuss. I never did anything to hurt her and was cooperative when she had work done on her roof and her contractor needed access from my roof to do his work.

About two weeks after the email barrage, I asked a friend to come over with a chain saw and trimmer to take care of the bush, obviously sooner than the “fall” that I had promised her. When we went outside to begin the work, I bent down and realized that she’d already taken pruners and cut some of the branches out of the bush. I couldn’t believe it!!! Talk about obsessing over a bush. My friend and I took a huge amount off the bush figuring that we’d do a really good job. But our efforts were not rewarded. Within hours I got another email from the same neighbor asking to meet me in the morning regarding my plants close to the street. My response was a negative. I held my boundaries and ended communication not responding. She needed to find something else to obsess about because I realized it was her mind that was the problem; nothing I did would ever satisfy her.


Positivism promotes health

May 1, 2020

We’re all in this isolation situation together. Sounds kind of funny doesn’t it?  Billions of people around the world are all stressed due to the Covid-19 corona virus pandemic yet it may be for slightly differing reasons. I feel like I get paralyzed some days and just plain overcome with inertia to be able to get anything done. I’ve heard other people express similar sentiments on zoom chat calls when they talk about how they are doing. Initially, I thought it was just me. Now I feel that we’re experiencing a new kind of stress that I’ll called COVID-19 PTSD. The answer is to stay positive, reduce this stress and promote a healthy immune system.

Just what is the undertone of this COVID-19 PTSD? Some of us are more concerned for our financial situations due to job loss or the state of the economy in general than for their health. As I’m in the high risk category, my health is my primary concern. I’m not working as I’m already in retirement; yet, I still have concerns for the economy because my income comes from investments which are currently in a volatile state making withdrawals from my account extremely expensive (taking the money and tax out at a 25% loss equals 40% in actual dollars!). Others may be concerned for their relatives going to work in high risk environments like first responders, medical professionals and those working in the delivery services as well as in stores still open.

The bottom line is that we’re all feeling Covid-19 stress, a new kind of PTSD from being isolated, shell shocked, having to live in a new reality not of our own making as well as dealing with everyday situations like going out into the “jungle” to get food or supplies. Where will it lead? No one really knows at this point. So what can we do about it? Well, some people are doing a lot of complaining about how the whole situation is being mismanaged so they think. Apparently, they would open the economy and allow people to move about. Others are saying that no, that would only contribute to more people getting sick and possibly dying. Well then, just keep the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions under wraps! I’m not proposing this; I’m merely stating what I’m hearing online and in the news. My personal opinion is of no consequence since I can’t affect the outcome of a virulent disease.    

So what’s my point and why am I writing this article? I do believe that we must stay positive. What does that look like in this volatile environment? It looks like not discussing how wrong all the government and bureaucratic decisions are, constantly looking at how many people are sick, how many have died and listening to the news all day. Yes, be informed but don’t let it all overwhelm you. Allow a certain reasonable amount of time daily to keep up to date on best practices, what one is supposed to do at the moment and stay calm about it. Getting hysterical, rioting and going against best practices is not the answer. Leave it up to the experts – anyway, the experts can’t decide what’s best – only God knows what will happen. It’s a virus and it doesn’t follow any rules. If we stay in now it may just delay the inevitable until later. But maybe later we’ll be more prepared. I certainly don’t want to have the lives of millions of people in my hands, do you? So leave it up to them and stay in your own body (or frequency).

Understand that everything that happens, even when someone dies, while others live is all part of the divine plan. We do our best every day, keep our minds positive, think the best of people, situations we find ourselves in and don’t allow our minds to be dissuaded by negative people. Don’t get on phone calls and listen to people go on about how bad everything is. It isn’t good for you and certainly not for them. We need to stay positive. It’s proven that staying positive keeps the immune system up and this is the best thing we can do for ourselves right now (that and eating healthy, getting daily exercise and drinking fresh water of course).  Know that you aren’t going crazy you’re dealing with Covid-19 PTSD. Stay positive!


Destiny or Blind Luck?

April 10, 2020

I’ve been thinking about how the events of late regarding the Covid-19 virus reminds me of a movie. Was it ordained by God or rather by some hate monger? What are we meant to learn from it? I see both sides of nature with some people being evil hoarding goods for themselves while others try to share in any way they can. One thing that I know for sure is that we will not be the same, nor will the world ever again. Is this the Apocalypse we are living through? Is it the new world on the other side?

It’s said that when the 10 lost tribes of Israel are found the Apocalypse will begin. They have been found by an Israeli historian. The story is on Amazon and is a great video. But according to the Jewish religious beliefs, it’s not the end but the beginning of the new age. (Check out Amazon for the back story).

Just last month, when I was leaving Buenos Aires 3 days early from my vacation, just hours before the Argentine government closed the borders; hundreds of people were in line many hours early for the last flight back to the US – the one I was on to DC. Many people were then making connections to other parts of the country. There were 12 airports doing testing prior to allowing entry – I had selected routing through Houston – the only airport, as it turned out, that was not doing testing. Those other airports had lines many hours long. I went through quickly. After a 17 hour journey, it would have been horrible to wait in line for hours. Was I lucky or was it ordained?

While I was in the check in line in BA, people were in panic mode. They weren’t thinking straight. I found out I could print my luggage tags at a kiosk rather than wait so long in the main line. So someone watched my bags while I went over to the kiosk and printed my baggage tags. Putting them on is pretty simple. One merely peels the paper strip apart, put one end through the handle and stick the two pieces together. Several groups of elderly people were holding the tags in their hands with empty looks on their faces. As I gazed at these people who clearly needed help, I began to ask if they’d like me to assist in putting the tags on to speed things up. Their empty looks turned into big smiles as I was handed their luggage tags as this single gesture became an act of service. In turn, I was given a rare opportunity to feel good in the midst of a crisis situation. In addition, as I periodically looked up, I could tell that my efforts were being noticed by the United Airlines staff who, with their eyes told me that they appreciated the support too.

I did get home and have been doing safe distancing for these last four weeks. I do appreciate having food and enough money to pay my bills. I know that it could be months that we need to stay inside. I plan to organize my day to do what I can by dividing my time between being active and resting, talking and writing. The hours will go by. At least men are not shooting at us. We are not going to gas chambers. But I’m in the high risk category by virtue of my age. My wish is to live through it, to stay busy, and be of service where I can.

 What do you hope for? Comments are always welcome.


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